Amazon unveiled a swath of the innovations and enhancements to its fulfillment and delivery operations at the annual Delivering the Future event earlier this month, including plans to expand drone delivery services both in the U.S. and internationally.
Attendees got a first look at the new MK30 drone, which was first unveiled last year. The new drone boasts custom-designed propellers that reduce perceived noise by almost half. It is also lighter and smaller than the current MK27 model and can fly twice as far in more diverse weather conditions like light rain. The MK30 will be integrated into operations in 2024.
Alongside enhancements to its drone technology, Amazon also is planning to expand the reach of Prime Air drone deliveries to a third U.S. state and launch the program internationally in Italy and the UK by the end of 2024. The specific state and cities where the expansions are planned have not yet been announced, but Amazon promised more details in the coming months. Drone deliveries are currently offered in Lockeford, Calif. and College Station, Texas.
U.S. drone delivery operations will be integrated more fully into the larger Amazon delivery network, with drone services operating out of some of the company’s same-day delivery sites. Amazon Pharmacy customers in College Station now also have the option to get their medications delivered by drone within 60 minutes.
While drones stole the show at Delivering the Future, Amazon made a series of other announcements about its ongoing sustainability and employee safety efforts, including:
- New robotics innovations that are helping to reduce repetitive motions and make fulfilling customer orders easier for warehouse workers;
- Robotics technologies like the new Sequoia sorting system are anticipated to help make the identification and storing of inventory up to 75% faster than it is currently. The system is now live at one Amazon fulfillment center in Houston;
- New Automated Vehicle Inspection (AVI) technology, which uses AI to help Delivery Service Partners (DSPs) maintain their fleet and automate part of the post-trip inspection process. Launched in partnership with tech startup UVeye, AVI will be rolled out at Amazon delivery stations in Canada, Germany, the UK and the U.S.; and
- Ongoing efforts to make delivery more sustainable, including the use of more than 10,000 electric vehicles from Rivian across the U.S.