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Amazon reveals plans for new Prime Air delivery drone

Amazon has announced a new, smaller delivery drone joining its Prime Air program. The MK-30 drone will enter into service in 2024 and will be able to withstand light rain and high temperatures. As announced in June this year, customers living in Lockeford, California and College Station, Texas will be the first to Prime Air deliveries whenever they become available.

The company claims the MK30 drone is 25% quieter than the hexagonal MK27-2 drones in its current lineup and will be used to transport packages of up to five pounds while flying “hundreds of feet in the air”. Deliveries in Lockeford will still be carried out by the MK27-2 drones.

To put things in context, Amazon’s current delivery drone fleet flies at 400 feet above ground level and with speeds of up to 50mph. The delivery range is estimated to be around 9 miles. The company aims to improve all three of these parameters with the new drone.

While the MK30 itself has safety-critical features built in, it will go through “vigorous evaluation” by national aerospace authorities including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to prove its safety and reliability. Amazon claims its drones can encounter new, unexpected situations and still make “safe decisions” autonomously. 

A prototype of the MK30 drone. | Source: Amazon

These drones are expected to deliver a variety of times in under an hour at scale. Amazon hopes to cut this delivery time down to 30 minutes in the future, 

The company did not announce any other information outside of the aforementioned features and a 3D design. It did however say that they’ve successfully built a “sophisticated and industry-leading” sense-and-avoid system that allows these drones to operate at greater distances while avoiding other aircraft, people, pets and obstacles that might be in the vicinity. 

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