Amazon expanding drone delivery service to Texas

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Amazon uses drones like this one to deliver packages to customers in as little as 30 minutes. Photo courtesy of Amazon | License Photo

July 15 (UPI) — E-commerce behemoth Amazon said Friday it plans to expand its drone delivery service to Texas later this year.

College Station, home of Texas A&M University, is the second American city to see the launch of Prime Air after Lockeford, in northern California.

“Being one of the first drone delivery locations for Amazon puts College Station at the forefront of this exciting technology,” Chancellor John Sharp, of the Texas A&M University System, said in a statement.

“What happens here will help advance drone delivery for the rest of the country and perhaps the rest of the world.”

Approval of the service in College Station was not without hurdles. Residents voiced concerns about drone crashes, one of which caused a wildfire in Oregon in March.

“Security and privacy is the first thing that occurred to me when I saw it,” resident Charlie Lindahl said during a College Station City Council meeting Thursday.

“The second thing was safety,” he said. “I’m more worried about accidents in the sense of, you know, what happens if it conks out in the middle of the highway, and it falls on the highway while there were cars in there.

“If this thing flies into a bunch of birds and then causes birds to go get killed, what’s happening there.”

Amazon’s Prime Air service has been in the works since CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled it in 2013.

The company completed its first drone delivery three years later: an Amazon Fire TV streaming device and a bag of popcorn dropped off at a farmhouse in eastern England. The 4.7-pound package arrived in 13 minutes from a warehouse 2 miles away.

In the United States, it took several more years for federal regulators to approve Amazon’s application to deliver drones as an air carrier.

The Federal Aviation Administration in August 2020 certified the company to launch its service, which aims to deliver packages weighing no more than 5 pounds in less than 30 minutes.

Amazon is not alone in its quest for air-delivery dominance. In May, retail giant Walmart announced plans to expand air delivery to 34 sites by the end of this year.

Once fully developed, Walmart’s drone deliveries aim to reach as many as 4 million customers across six states: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Texas, Utah and Virginia.

The company, which can deliver packages up to 10 pounds in less than 30 minutes, wants to complete 1 million air drop-offs in its first year.

In Australia, a company owned by Google’s parent, Alphabet, has been delivering food items via drone since 2019. The outfit, called Wing, delivered in its first year some 10,000 cups of coffee, 1,700 snack packs and 1,200 roast chickens to customers in Logan.

Now the company has its eyes set on expanding to cities of similar size: New Orleans in the United States; Manchester, England; and Florence, Italy.

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