Amazon announces an expansion of its drone delivery service, Prime Air. Before the end of the year, the American giant will be able to deliver products with a drone network in the city of College Station, Texas. This will be the second city, after Lockeford in California, to benefit from this service. We are still very far from a national network in the United States. And even further in Europe.
Prime Air, you know? This is the famous drone delivery service developed by Amazon. Or more precisely of an experiment that takes a long time to emerge and costs a lot of money (we are talking about 2 billion dollars). Because the project is taking much longer than expected to see the light of day. Developments started in 2013. In 2019, the design of the drone by Amazon was finalized. The firm then promised to start operations within the year. A promise that was not kept.
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Several accidents have delayed this deadline, notably in 2021 when a drone crashed, causing a serious fire. This has led the American aeronautics regulator, the FAA, to express its reservations about issuing permits for these drone fleets. A damning article was published by Bloomberg in early 2022 explaining the pressure Amazon executives had on development teams. A few months later, Amazon announced by surprise the opening of the service in Lockeford, California. To test the life-size service.
Amazon Prime Air will arrive in a second US city in 2022
A month later, Amazon announces the opening of the service in a second city: College Station, in Texas. Attention, the service is still not available there, the firm indicating that the first deliveries will be made before the end of the year. The goal here is also to test the service with hundreds of subscribers to Amazon’s Prime service. Contrary to what Amazon seems to indicate, this is not a commercial launch, but a test phase: the American firm will work with a local university, Texas A&M University, to improve the system. Moreover, College Station was not chosen at random: the university establishment specializes… in drones.
Prime Air can therefore deliver to Amazon consumers in two cities. A meager result after nearly 10 years of work by one of the largest companies in the world. However, even if a national launch seems to be a long way off, Amazon remains the most advanced company in its project: Google, an even bigger company, is not there yet. In 2021, the firm also had to interrupt its Wing program, because its drones were attacked by birds.
Delivery by drone will certainly arrive one day in France. It even already exists from time to time, thanks to an initiative by La Poste, which delivers parcels to mountainous areas that are difficult to access by road. And this since 2019. On the other hand, there is no question for La Poste to replace its delivery and postal workers in urban areas. We will therefore certainly have to wait for Amazon Prime Air to arrive on the old continent. Which may still be a bit long.