Innovation Will Allow the Delivery of Parcels by Drones
Amazon has patented a design for shipping labels that contain parachutes, bringing their plans to deliver by drone a step closer to reality.
The days of waiting for the postman or courier to turn up at the front door with your order could become a thing of the past, thanks to the latest innovation in labelling technology.
Amazon Prime Air
Amazon first floated the possibility of deliveries by drone in 2014, but the latest step suggests the project is something that could genuinely get off the ground.
Amazon Prime Air deliveries are already available to a select band of customers in the Cambridge area, and the first drone delivery took place in December of last year. The entire buying process took a matter of just 13 minutes from order to delivery. Put that way, it becomes clear that the potential for puns is exceeded by the potential to completely revolutionise the ecommerce buying process.
The process could not be simpler. Once an order is placed and processed at Amazon’s Cambridge fulfilment centre (that’s a warehouse to you and me), a drone is loaded and despatched from the facility. It flies at a height of up to 400 feet (120 metres), makes the delivery and then returns home.
The project has been in the wind for a while, and the local media were invited to have a look at what they described as Amazon’s top secret research lab in October of last year. Amazon is running similar trial programmes in the USA, Austria and Israel, but the Cambridge one appears to be off to a flying start in comparison to the rest.
Of course, the project is very much in the beta testing stage of development at present. Amazon has confirmed that it is only available to a limited number of customers in the immediate locality. Furthermore, the drones are unable to operate during hours of darkness or in adverse weather conditions.
The patenting of the parachute label shows just how serious Amazon is about the project. A look at the patent’s abstract shows that the label system can include a self-adhesive backing, a number of parachute cords and even a breakaway cover to facilitate a safe landing for your package.
Looking to the future
It does not take any great leap of the imagination to see the potential in the Amazon Air project, and how it could easily become the delivery method of choice for every ecommerce business.
Amazon envisages a world where the sight of delivery drones passing overhead will be as common as the courier vans and trucks that we see on the roads every day. They propose that the drones should operate in a dedicated airspace, that would not, therefore, interfere with other air traffic.
With plans to even introduce flying warehouses from which to deploy the drones, there is no lack of ambition in the project. As to where it will ultimately end up – the sky is the limit.