Amazon gets government approval to expand drone deliveries

Amazon gets government approval to expand drone deliveries

Amazon is able to charge customers less than it otherwise would, by using drones to reduce delivery costs. But federal regulations restrict the use of drones. Fortunately, the federal government does not apply such restrictions rigidly, and is allowing Amazon to increase its use of drones, reports Axios:

“The Federal Aviation Administration has authorized Amazon’s delivery drones to fly longer distances without visual spotters, a key hurdle that will allow the retailer to expand its fledgling Prime Air service…Amazon’s goal is to deliver 500 million packages a year by drone by 2029. But first, it had to satisfy government regulators that it could fly safely in increasingly crowded skies.”

Amazon has devoted years of effort to developing “detect-and-avoid” technology to ensure safe use of such drones. “The drones’ computer vision system includes a series of cameras that scan the skies while in flight, and then check the ground during deliveries to avoid people, animals and other obstacles….drones can safely navigate away from planes, helicopters and even hot air balloons.”

“Now that it has FAA approval to fly ‘beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS),’ Amazon says it will begin scaling drone delivery service to more customers. First, it will start delivering to more densely populated areas of College Station, Texas (one of its initial test markets). Later this year, Amazon will begin drone deliveries in Phoenix — using a faster, lighter next-generation drone that will be integrated alongside trucks and vans into an existing fulfillment center. It expects to rapidly roll out the service worldwide over the next few years.”

Companies such as Zipline and Wing are also offering delivery drones.

In other news, drones are replacing or complementing tractors on some farms, saving farmers a fortune, and making it easier to spray herbicides, insecticides and fertilizers with precision, and even to distribute seeds in planting season.

Drones are saving lives by making child immunization easier in countries like Ghana.

Researchers have also developed robots to pick cotton. That may eliminate the need for cotton farmers to buy mechanical harvesters that cost $1 million and weigh 30 tons, compressing soil and thus sometimes harming soil health.

Robots with artificial intelligence are spreading on Japanese farms. In the U.S., farming robots now use artificial intelligence to kill 100,000 weeds per hour. Drones with artificial intelligence will make farming easier.

Scientists have developed tiny robots made of human cells to repair damaged cells and shrink tumors by cutting off their blood supply.

Robots are also being use for food preparation, such as the salad-making robot used by the Sweetgreen restaurant chain. Robot waiters are increasingly being used in South Korean restaurants, which are facing a labor shortage.

LU Staff

LU Staff

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