Over the years, online shopping has gained huge popularity , especia lly among youth. Online Shopping doesn’t just provide a splendid shopping experience from the comfort of one’s house but also allow customers to choose products and services from thousands and thousands of brands, some of them might not even be available in the local market near-by. Every year, these online shopping sites try to improvise their shopping experience for customers and also, keep adding new services and brands to their sites.
Amazon is among the largest e-commerce sites that are available on the internet and recently, have been working on developing methods that would speed-up their delivery services, such as building algorithm that anticipates the orders, to using drones for fast package delivery.
The concept of drones has been in existence in one or other form since 1911. In today’s world, drones have become a very common topic of discussion both as vehicles for combat or for various civilian applications. This technology of unmanned air vehicles is employed to secure video footages, used for surveillance purpose by government officials etc.
Announcement of Amazon Prime Air
On 1st December 2013, Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, while giving an interview for 60-minutes introduced a unique idea of using a Miniature Unmanned Air Vehicle (Miniature UAV) or more commonly known as drones for the delivery of individual packages. This idea was developed under the name ‘AMAZON AIR PRIME’ by means of which the customer would be able to receive their order in less or within 30 minutes after the order. This would be achieved by using the technology of Miniature UAV, which would independently fly individual packages to the customers within 30 minutes of ordering. But in order for the customer to qualify for this delivery service, the package that they order should be less than 5 pounds (i.e, 2.25 kg) and also, it should be small enough so that it can fit into the cargo box which will be carried by the craft. Also, this facility is available to only those customers who are located within a 10-mile radius of a working Amazon order fulfillment center.
Development of Amazon Prime Air
At first, w hen people heard about the idea of using UAV or drones for the delivery purpose, they thought it was crazy and impossible. But that didn’t stop Bezos and his team at Amazon to work on it and develop it so that it becomes a reality. On the way of making Amazon Prime Air a reality, the Amazon team had to overcome various hurdles.
To let Amazon Drones off the ground, permission from the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) had to be taken which was not an easy step. FAA didn’t agree for this and also in February 2015 FAA established a new drone regulation, which stated that UAV’s should be operated only within the eyesight of the pilot and all those drones in which the operations are not directly controlled by a person were banned. This led to a slowdown in the process of development of Amazon Prime Air, as the testing of the drones’ technology was not able to take place.
The other restrictions put forward by FAA were:
- No operations at night.
- Operations cannot be taken place in a heavily populated area.
- Operations should be taken place within the set radius of an airfield or an airport.
All the above restrictions forced Amazon to move their research and development centers of drones outside the US. Most of the testing of the drones (sometimes referred as ‘Octocopters’ because of its eight legs) was done overseas.
In 2015, Amazon debuted a drone with new design, longer range (15mile ) and better technology, these newly developed drones were able to avoid air and ground-based obstructions automatic ally. In late 2015 and early 2016, Amazon continued their work on automated collision avoidance technologies and noise reduction.
By June 2016, FAA passed new rulings on drones which allowed drones to be operated by commercial firms without any authorization process but still there was the restrictions on operating drones within pilot’s eyesight but later that year FAA allowed drones to be operated without any eyesight restrictions which made it possible for Amazon Prime Air to become feasible. Thus, the development of Amazon Prime Air got a momentum.
First Delivery Of Amazon Prime Air
On 7th December 2016, Amazon was able to successfully complete their first package delivery to a customer by the Amazon Prime Air Services in Cambridge, England. Since then the company has been working on to gradually expanding the Amazon Prime Air services in many more countries around the world.
The safety related to the operations of the drone has always been in question, with many official considering it risky for letting drones to fly without much of human guidance as it could lead to destruction if something goes wrong.
But Amazon’s number one priority has always been ‘Safe Operations’ and keeping that in mind they developed the ‘sense and avoid’ technology and keep attempting trials in order to obtain data and use it for any improvements if required. Also, with the advancement in technology the security also improves.
Amazon Prime Air is the next step in the home delivery services, with this technology customers are able to receive their packages within 30 minutes of their orders, thus saving a lot of time and reducing the waiting period. But Amazon Prime Air is still in the early stage of development and has a long way to go before a larger mass of people are able to use this service.
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