Amazon primes Texas college town for launch of first drone delivery gig
Busy, techy, convenience-minded Texas A&M students could be among the first in the nation to test pilot a game-changing delivery system. Amazon plans to deploy its state-of-the art Prime Air drone delivery in College Station, Texas later this year.
The online juggernaut says it's already reaching out to College Station customers, telling them that they’ll soon receive free and fast drone delivery on thousands of everyday items. The deployment marks the largest selection of items to ever be available for drone delivery, the company says. College Station joins Lockeford, California as targeted test sites for drone launch.
“We are impressed with so many aspects of College Station,” notes an Amazon blog post announcing the news. “The innovative research conducted by Texas A&M University, the small-town feel, and the sense of community that is clear from the minute you arrive in town all make it a very special place.”
Jeff Bezos’ empire plans to also collaborate with the Aggies on tech. “We are thrilled about the opportunity to launch this service in College Station and partner with the city and its world-class university on some of the great work they’ve been doing in the area drone technology,” the post adds.
How will it work? Once onboarded, College Station customers can then view Prime Air-eligible items on Amazon, where they can place orders and receive an estimated arrival time with a status tracker for their order.
Drones will then fly to the designated delivery location, descend to the customer’s backyard, and hover at a safe height. The drones will then safely release the package, rise back up to altitude, and return to base, per Amazon.
Amazon is touting the difference of its drone fleet versus the masses. Prime Air drones fly up to 50 miles per hour, up to an altitude of 400 feet, and carry packages of up to 5 pounds.
Unlike most drones, Amazon notes, Prime Air drones utilize a sophisticated, sense-and-avoid system allowing them to operate at greater distances while safely and reliably avoiding other aircraft, people, pets, and obstacles. That means the drones can identify objects such as aircraft, birds, or static places like trees and chimneys, avoid them, and select a safe space to land and later, safely leave.
“Being one of the first drone delivery locations for Amazon puts College Station at the forefront of this exciting technology,” said John Sharp, chancellor of The Texas A&M University System, in a statement. “What happens here will help advance drone delivery for the rest of the country and perhaps the rest of the world. We welcome Amazon to our community and stand ready to assist however we can.”
College Station, Amazon promises, will benefit by more than just speedy, environmentally friendly delivery. “We’re bringing more than drone delivery to Lockeford and College Station,” notes the Amazon blog. “Through these Prime Air drone deliveries, we will create new jobs, build partnerships with local organizations, and help to reduce the impact of climate change on future generations.”