COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KXAN) – Amazon announced Wednesday it would expand its drone program – called Prime Air – to start delivering pharmaceutical products to customers in College Station by drone.
Customers in College Station can now choose more than 500 prescription medications to be delivered by drone in less than an hour, according to Amazon.
Amazon so far has piloted Prime Air in College Station and Lockeford, California. Stakeholders told KXAN that the drones have successfully delivered thousands of packages to customers since it began in December 2022.
“It’s not only just a cool factor because it’s the future – It’s a drone,” said Ryan Greenlese, an Amazon Prime Air flight operator. “But also, it’s saving the environment…These are reusable batteries that we can recharge. We’re not using fossil fuels, and [our] packaging is all recyclable material.”
Amazon also announced it would expand the Prime Air program to another U.S. city, the U.K. and Italy by the end of 2024.
How it works
The Prime Air site in College Station has thousands of items, all under five pounds, that customers can get delivered by drone.
Once the fulfillment center gets the order, an Amazon employee will grab the item, pack it in a box with a “trampoline-like” device inside so it doesn’t get damaged, and load it into the drone.
The drone weighs around 80 pounds and can reach up to 60 miles per hour. Once the drone reaches its location, it drops the package on a marker a customer will have laid out on their property, and the delivery is complete.
The drones are autonomous, but an operator monitors the delivery to ensure it lands safely or command the device back if conditions are determined unsafe.
“We’ve made thousands of deliveries here and in Lockeforde where we were able to get those in under 60 minutes and do so safely and quickly,” Greenlese said.
Greenlese said the drone is “years in the making,” so Amazon has been able to avoid issues with deliveries so far.
“These drones are tested, and they have earned our trust,” he said.
Additionally, Amazon announced Wednesday its next generation Prime Air Drone. This drone has increased range, expanded temperature tolerance and the ability to land in smaller areas. This drone is also quieter, smaller and lighter, according to Amazon.