Amazon Drone Delivery Back on Track or More “Cry Wolf?”

Four years ago Ama­zon had promised a dream. To be deliv­er­ing pack­ages by drones to your front door in 2018. Futur­ists and drone enthu­si­asts were tit­il­lat­ed and excit­ed by this prospect, while road deliv­ery com­pa­nies quaked in their boots.

Yet noth­ing hap­pened. The promise first announced via a major fan­fare on a CBS TV 60 Min­utes Spe­cial in 2013 turned out to be hol­low. The dream van­ished, leav­ing behind anger, dis­ap­point­ment and dis­il­lu­sion­ment.

Just last year, wired.co.uk, for exam­ple, wrote an excel­lent arti­cle head­ed, “The slow col­lapse of Amazon’s drone deliv­ery dream” which went on “Ama­zon has trig­gered mass redun­dan­cies and trans­fers as it winds down a huge part of its UK drone deliv­ery busi­ness.” Not only did this “slow col­lapse” tar­nish the company’s rep­u­ta­tion, but thrust a knife into the hopes of a gen­er­al world­wide drone deliv­ery indus­try.

Read ‘wired.co.uk’ Arti­cle:


And yet, like a phoenix ris­ing from the ash­es, in June, Ama­zon released news that its drone deliv­ery promise was back on track… in the U.S, at least. That Ama­zon Prime mem­bers liv­ing in Lock­e­ford, Cal­i­for­nia would be the first cus­tomers to receive their deliv­er­ies from a Prime Air drone, direct to their back­yards. Although, no start date was men­tioned. On the company’s web­site, it again promised the earth, as if the dream had tak­en a wrong turn­ing and end­ed up in a cul de sac for four years.

Ama­zon has even done a 180 degree U‑turn and is now rehir­ing: “We’re hir­ing team mem­bers across a wide range of tech­ni­cal, oper­a­tional, and sup­port roles to help us bring Prime Air to our cus­tomers around the world. Come join us!”


The com­pa­ny writes, “Cus­tomers can expect deliv­er­ies for free in under an hour from Prime Air”; “our teams of hun­dreds of sci­en­tists, engi­neers, aero­space pro­fes­sion­als, and futur­ists have been work­ing hard to do just that”; “the promise of drone deliv­ery has often felt like sci­ence fic­tion”; and “through these deliv­er­ies, we will cre­ate new jobs, build part­ner­ships with local organ­i­sa­tions…” etc, etc.. That dream of Ama­zon deliv­er­ing “thou­sands of every­day items” is being pledged once again.

The com­pa­ny explains, cus­tomers at Lock­e­ford in San Joaquin Coun­ty are to place their orders online and receive an esti­mat­ed arrival time. “For these deliv­er­ies, the drone will fly to the des­ig­nat­ed loca­tion, descend to the customer’s back­yard, and hov­er at a safe height.” Adding, ”It will then safe­ly release the pack­age and rise back up to alti­tude.”

Basi­cal­ly, what Man­na Aero has been car­ry­ing out in Ire­land or Wing in Aus­tralia for the last two years. In that respect, Ama­zon are behind the curve. It goes on, “Ama­zon is work­ing with the Fed­er­al Avi­a­tion Admin­is­tra­tion (FAA) and local offi­cials in Lock­e­ford to obtain per­mis­sion to make the deliv­er­ies.”

Yet, with no start date for this tri­al, Ama­zon released a fur­ther news sto­ry in July, adding anoth­er loca­tion for its tests — Col­lege Sta­tion, Texas.


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Last week, with still no con­firmed date, Ama­zon pub­lished anoth­er arti­cle, a bit of padding, to keep the promise alive, enti­tled “How Ama­zon is build­ing its drone deliv­ery sys­tem.” There is no new infor­ma­tion, just a rehash from the past.


There­fore, the ques­tion being, why the delay? Some might sug­gest the “Cry Wolf” that Ama­zon has been bay­ing since 2013 con­tin­ues. Has the FAA put a span­ner in the works? Will Ama­zon once more have egg over its face? It makes lit­tle sense, espe­cial­ly giv­en the oth­er drone deliv­ery tri­als already achieved or being imple­ment­ed by Wing, Fly­trex and Zipline in North Car­oli­na, USA, for exam­ple, or the Amer­i­can Wal­mart and Drone­Up col­lab­o­ra­tion.

Per­haps, impa­tience has become the norm?

(pics: Ama­zon)

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