Amazon's new drones to start delivering packages in months

June 10, 2019 - United States Of America

Amazon will deploy drones to deliver packages to customers in 30 minutes or less in the coming months, Jeff Wilke, chief executive of its consumer business, said at the company’s re:MARS conference in Las Vegas recently. The drone takes off and lands vertically, is more stable than prior models and spots moving objects better than humans can, making it safe.

Wilke did not disclose where the new drones would be deployed first. Amazon made its first customer delivery by drone in the United Kingdom in 2016.

Wilke said in a blog post Amazon has been working to build fully electric drones. These can fly up to 24 km and the company is adding facilities closer to urban areas. They also can carry goods that weigh under 2.3 kg, which represent the majority of the items it sells.

At the conference, Amazon also formally introduced ‘StyleSnap’, a feature on its smartphone app that lets shoppers upload a picture of an outfit they like and get recommendations for similar items to buy. The feature was launched in April, Wilke said, noting that shoppers had struggled to find styles that they could not describe in words.

When providing recommendations, StyleSnap considers factors such as the brand, price range and customer reviews, the blog post said.

Other announcements included a new warehouse sorting system already live in Denver, Colorado that relies on small robotic vehicles topped with miniature conveyor belts that take packages to the correct chutes for delivery. These, and another robot Amazon unveiled, are updates to the Kiva ‘drive units’ the company acquired years ago.

Users of Amazon’s voice-controlled speakers may also see updates through ‘Alexa Conversations’, which the company announced so developers make their services on the virtual assistant Alexa more conversational. This follows work Amazon has done on the topic of conversational artificial intelligence with university researchers. (DS)