Amazon announced Friday it will soon begin making drone deliveries in College Station, Texas.
Amazon said Friday it will begin delivering packages to shoppers by drone in College Station, Texas, later this year.
The eastern Texas town is the second location to see the launch of Prime Air drone deliveries. Last month, Amazon announced it would deliver some packages by drone later this year in the Northern California town of Lockeford.
Amazon said it will work with Texas A&M University, located in College Station, to deploy the drones. Amazon shoppers in Lockeford and College Station will be able to receive free drone delivery on thousands of everyday items, Amazon said.
The company said its drones are capable of delivering packages up to five pounds in less than an hour. Prime Air drones can fly up to 50 miles per hour and up to an altitude of 400 feet, Amazon said.
Its drones fly to a designated delivery location, descend to the shoppers’ backyard, and hover at a safe height, the company said. The device releases the package, rises back up to altitude, and returns to base, Amazon said.
Amazon’s drone delivery program has been slow going since 2013 when founder and then-CEO Jeff Bezos said the company was testing the technology and promised that half-hour shipping with Prime Air drones would arrive as soon as 2018.
In the years since, Amazon has made some progress on the effort, debuting an updated version of its Prime Air delivery drone in 2019 at its re:MARS conference in Las Vegas. At the time, Jeff Wilke, who was Amazon’s consumer boss, proclaimed drones would be used “within months” to deliver packages.
Amazon reached a key milestone in August 2020 when the Federal Aviation Administration gave it approval to operate its fleet of Prime Air delivery drones.
But the drone delivery program has also reportedly experienced some setbacks, such as high turnover and numerous crashes, including one that caused a 20-acre brush fire in eastern Oregon, according to Business Insider.
Amazon spokesperson Av Zammit said the Business Insider report refers to events that took place during routine testing operations over a controlled, unpopulated area using a since-retired drone model. Amazon expects these types of events to occur in testing scenarios, and no one was injured as a result of those flights, he added. Each test is done in compliance with applicable regulations, Zammit said.
“The package delivery operations in College Station will not be experimental operations,” Zammit said in a statement. “Instead, they will be conducted under an air carrier certificate issued by the FAA that enables commercial deliveries and shows that our comprehensive processes meet the FAA’s high safety bar.”
Amazon said it doesn’t share turnover information. Prime Air continues to hire and retain talent, the company added.