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Amazon Reveals Goals for Drones in E-Commerce Retailing

It looks like Amazon’s dream of filling the skies with the contents of your online shopping cart may be one step closer to coming true. Paul Misener, Amazon’s vice president of global public policy, recently shared the e-commerce retailer’s plans and goals for the automated aerial vehicles in its Prime Air drone delivery program.

“The goals we’ve set for ourselves are: The range has to be over 10 miles. These things will weigh about 55 pounds each, but they’ll be able to deliver parcels that weigh up to five pounds,” said Misener in an interview with Yahoo! Tech. “It turns out that the vast majority of the things we sell at Amazon weigh less than five pounds.” Misener also disclosed the company’s timed delivery goal: each package is supposed to arrive within 30 minutes after an order is placed.

Multiple versions of drone technology are undergoing prototype testing. According to Misener, different types of drones will eventually be used in different climates and residential environments.

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Amazon still has to undergo a vetting process by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to receive regulatory approval for their drone service at some point. In the meantime, the e-commerce company has already been rolling out faster and more competitive delivery services via its Prime Now program, which has been launched in a handful of major metropolitan areas and is only available for Prime members. Subscribers to the Prime Now delivery program can now avoid a trip to the store by choosing two-hour delivery (free) or one-hour delivery ($8) for their purchases.

The e-commerce giant is not the only company getting into the retail industry drone game. Last October, Walmart requested permission from the FAA to perform outdoor testing on drones for commercial use. However, the company does not plan to use them for delivery at this time; Walmart hopes to use drones to better manage their supply chain inventory via electronic surveillance equipment.

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