Amazon is building a better drone that should help chart a course for the company’s Prime Air delivery service after the project was reportedly hampered by multiple malfunctions, crashes, and even fires. The new MK30 drone will go into service in 2024 and is designed to be quieter, go further, and handle the elements better, like high temperatures and light rain.
The new drone has the same function and goal as its predecessor designs: fly vertically hundreds of feet into the air, autonomously maneuver and land, and deliver packages up to five pounds. The MK30 will be lighter and smaller than the current hexagonal MK27-2 drone, and it will be put through “rigorous evaluation by national aerospace authorities like the Federal Aviation Administration to prove its safety and reliability,” as written in a press release.
Amazon isn’t giving up on its decade-long efforts to widely launch its Prime Air drone delivery service; the company announced in July that its next test site will be College Station, Texas, where it’s partnering with the city and Texas A&M University doing test flights with its current drone prototype, the MK27-2.
Still, the company faces many hurdles, including approval from the FAA, and is still a long way away from its 2013 goal of operating a 30-minute delivery service straight over your roof.
This comes at a time Amazon’s devices unit is facing billions of dollars in operating losses, and the company is looking to find areas to cut costs, which may include slowing the development of new features for its popular Alexa AI assistant. The company is now evaluating how to optimize costs, and we don’t yet know if Prime Air can get more hang time.