Amazon Upgrades Its Delivery Drone With Next-Gen MK30

Amazon is committed to its vision of autonomous package delivery via drone. In a multiyear development process that has seen both progress and setbacks, the global retailer has finally reached a testing phase. Key to that phase will be a brand new design for a delivery drone, one tricked out with the absolute latest in unmanned flight technology.

To say the least, the transition from "a delivery driver brings you a box" to "a robot drops it out of the sky" has come with a few hurdles. At the same time, Amazon is adamant that drone delivery is the future for at least part of its business. Ever since Amazon patented its first drone in 2016 — the tech at the time more closely resembled a tiny hot air balloon on the back of an RC plane – the company has been committed to the creation of a safe, autonomous drone delivery system. The MK30, as Amazon is calling its latest box bot, is a significant step toward that outcome.

Merchandise takes to the skies

Reflecting Amazon's seriousness about drone delivery, the major improvements of the MK30 over its predecessor, the MK27-2, are largely about customer and bystander comfort. Per the announcement on the About Amazon official blog, the new drone's propellers will be 25% quieter than the MK27's. The MK30 will also come with a cutting-edge sense-and-avoid system to guarantee safety when delivering in built-up areas. The all-electric MK30 will do most of its flying several hundred feet up, well away from possible obstacles, and can even tolerate light rain.

Amazon's Prime Air received the FAA green light to operate its delivery drones in the U.S. in August 2020, according to CNBC. The company's current plan is to start delivering packages under 5 pounds later this year. The first drone deliveries will be made in Lockeford, California, and College Station, Texas. As Amazon is rapidly running out of weeks left in the year, we hope to see deliveries taking to the skies sometime soon.