- Amazon will integrate drone deliveries into its fulfillment network to reach customers faster, the company announced Wednesday.
- Prime Air drones will start deploying at some of the company's same-day delivery sites in the U.S., rather than standalone Prime Air Delivery Centers like it has done in Lockeford, California, and College Station, Texas.
- Amazon also plans to expand the number of locations where it offers drone delivery. It aims to launch services in Italy, the U.K. and a third U.S. community starting in late 2024. Specific cities will be named in the coming months.
Amazon's plan for drones operating out of the same buildings as traditional delivery vans shows its ambition to have the technology become a regular part of its day-to-day fulfillment operations.
"The integration aims to help Amazon streamline the retail experience, create a safer and more sustainable delivery model, and deliver products more quickly," the company said.
Meanwhile, the plan for new drone delivery locations in the U.S. and abroad expand Amazon's efforts to scale the emerging transportation method.
The e-commerce giant said it has been using drones for nearly a year to deliver packages weighing up to five pounds in one hour or less. In College Station, Amazon drones have delivered hundreds of household items since December 2022.
Amazon noted it eventually wants its drones to fly thousands of times and deliver millions of packages annually for customers. However, the rollout for its drone program has been slow, complicated by reported safety challenges and limited delivery activity in addition to industry-wide hurdles to mass adoption.
"We are working closely with national regulators and international regulators, and communities in the EU, Italy, the UK, and the U.S., to develop this program," Amazon said. "We have committed the necessary time and resources to build a safe and scalable service."
Amazon has the opportunity to scale up its drone delivery coverage quickly by stationing them at same-day delivery sites. The company plans to double the number of these smaller facilities, which are stationed near metro areas and use a streamlined fulfillment process, in the coming years.
"Think of products that fit the size and weight capabilities of the drone — like cold medicines and batteries — we place them close to customers at these sites, which enables us to deliver them at our fastest speeds, and now it makes sense to make deliveries even faster via drones," Amazon said.
Amazon plans to lean on its MK30 drone to make the deliveries, replacing its existing drones by the end of 2024. The new design can fly twice as far as previous Prime Air drone models, expanding the company's drone delivery range.