Amazon brings drone delivery to Texas neighborhood

Amazon brings drone delivery to Texas neighborhood

October 27, 2023

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Amazon Pharmacy is taking flight in College Station, Texas, according to a recent announcement from the retail and e-commerce giant.

For eligible customers in the area, Amazon’s drone delivery service can now bring prescription medication to their doors within an hour of placing their order at no additional cost.

Customers can opt for drone delivery at checkout and a pharmacist team will ensure medications are loaded and transported, according to the announcement. College Station residents utilizing Amazon’s drone delivery services will have access to over 500 medications that treat conditions like the flu, asthma and pneumonia.

The Amazon drones received a Federal Aviation Administration air carrier certificate, which is required to operate drones with advanced capabilities. Flying at an altitude of 40 to 120 meters, the drones have built-in sense-and-avoid technology to navigate their surroundings, according to the announcement.

In order for customers to become eligible for drone deliveries through Amazon, they must onboard with Prime Air, participate in a yard survey and position an Amazon-provided delivery marker at the designated location they want for their drone deliveries. Customers do not need to be a Prime member to use the service.

Once the drone arrives at a customer’s home, it slowly descends above a delivery marker, and computer vision ensures the drone maintains a path clear of obstacles. The drone will release the package, rise back up and return to the delivery center, allowing customers to grab the package without interacting with the drone, per the press release.

Amazon noted that it’s been delivering hundreds of household items in College Station since December 2022. Customers can’t get other products, like toothpaste or diapers, delivered with their Amazon Pharmacy medication delivery because Amazon’s pharmacy facilities, which do not contain non-clinical items, are separately licensed and maintained.

The announcement came the same day Amazon also unveiled plans to integrate drone deliveries into its fulfillment network to speed up delivery to customers. The company said it will deploy Prime Air drones at some of its same-day delivery sites in the U.S. Previously, Amazon had used the drones at standalone Prime Air Delivery Centers in College Station and Lockeford, California. Amazon said it plans to launch its Prime Air service in a third U.S. community starting in late 2024, and will also bring the service to Italy and the U.K.

Rival Walmart is also working on drone deliveries. The retailer, which said it made over 6,000 drone deliveries in 2022, revealed in August it has teamed up with Alphabet’s Wing to offer drone delivery from two stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to customers within a 6-mile radius by the end of the year.

Catherine Douglas Moran contributed reporting.

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