Amazon is using drones to deliver prescription drugs


The company has started drone deliveries in Texas

Amazon’s pharmacy is taking the next steps in convenience for consumers with its latest innovation: drone delivery

The company announced that customers in College Station, Texas can place orders for prescription medication with Amazon Pharmacy and get delivery via drone within 60 minutes – with no extra cost. 

“We’re taught from the first days of medical school that there is a golden window that matters in clinical medicine,” said Dr. Vin Gupta, chief medical officer at Amazon Pharmacy. “That’s the time between when a patient feels unwell and when they’re able to get treatment. 

“We’re working hard at Amazon to dramatically narrow the golden window from diagnosis to treatment, and drone delivery marks a significant step forward. Whether it’s an infectious disease or respiratory illness, early intervention can be critical to improving patient outcomes.” 

Getting prepared for drone delivery

For those in College Station who are interested in utilizing this new service, the first step is actually getting on-boarded with what’s been dubbed “Prime Air.”

Customers living in single-family homes need to go through – and pass – a yard survey to ensure that Amazon’s drones can safely and effectively travel to their homes and deliver medication. Living in an apartment doesn’t prohibit customers from utilizing drone delivery, but the pickup process may differ slightly. 

Once consumers have signed up, they select a delivery marker for the drone, which Amazon provides, and place the marker at the designated location. For those in apartment buildings, eligible buildings will have a specific drone delivery area. With that done, it’s time to start using Prime Air. 

Currently, there are over 500 medications available for drone delivery, and consumers simply need to select “free drone delivery in less than 60 minutes” during checkout. 

How does it work?

Amazon’s drones fly 40-120 meters above the ground, and are equipped with sensors and cameras to safely avoid any potential obstacles like pets, people, power lines, etc. 

When the drone approaches the place of delivery, it assesses the area to ensure there are no obstructions at the designated delivery marker. If the area is clear, the drone lowers down to the ground, releases the package, and then begins its ascent and travels back to the fulfillment center. 

Amazon’s drones also earned a Federal Aviation Administration air carrier certificate, highlighting its safety. 

“Our drones fly over traffic, eliminating the excess time a customer’s package might spend in transit on the road,” said Calsee Hendrickson, director of product and program management at Prime Air. “That’s the beauty of drone delivery, and medications were the first thing our customers said they also wanted delivered quickly via drone. Speed and convenience top the wish list for health purchases.” 

Currently, consumers aren’t able to include any add-ons to their delivery orders. This means that the drones can only deliver prescription medications – nothing else from Amazon’s extensive catalog of goods. 

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