CEO Jeff Bezos tweeted the announcement early Wednesday, saying that the first Amazon Prime Air customer delivery was “in the books. 13 min-- click to delivery.”
Amazon.com says it has delivered its first order via drone to a real customer in the U.K. as part of a testing program that could ultimately transform the field of logistics.
The announcement comes three years after CEO Jeff Bezos first unveiled that Amazon was working on dispatching items through the air via flying robots. Bezos himself tweeted the announcement early Wednesday, saying that the first Amazon Prime Air customer delivery was “in the books. 13 min— click to delivery.”
According to a video describing the event, the delivery took place on Dec. 7. The video shows a drone gingerly carrying an Amazon Fire TV and a bag of popcorn over idyllic fields around Cambridge, England, to a customer’s yard
So far there are two customers involved in the trial, but in months Amazon expects to enroll dozens more and eventually intends to expand to hundreds of shoppers. Customers enrolled in the trial get the under-30-minute drone treatment free.
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Of course, there are limits: customers can order packages of up to five pounds only, and weather is a factor.
This new step toward widespread drone delivery is important for Amazon, which seeks not only to give its customers the same immediate gratification they get for shopping at brick-and=mortar stores, but also to lower the cost of doing so.
Analysts say that great savings could come from making deliveries via drone, bringing the cost down to a few cents per parcel down from a few dollars, at least when it comes to suburban and rural settings.
In a deep dive on Amazon’s logistics plans last June, analysts with Deutsche Bank concluded that robots and drones could reduce last-mile delivery costs of a shoe-box sized package to about 5 cents per mile,”fully baked for maintenance,” and result in faster delivery. That compares with $6 to $6.50 for the likes of UPS and FedEx and $2 for the U.S. Postal Service, just for the last mile.
“Admittedly, there will be constraints for using robots and drones for some deliveries but once the regulatory hurdles are cleared, Amazon is likely to ramp using robots and drones for deliveries significantly,” the Deutsche analysts wrote.