Amazon Launches Drone Delivery Service for Medications

Amazon Pharmacy customers in a Texas town will be the first to have medications delivered to their door by Prime Air drones.

On October 18, Amazon Pharmacy announced the launch of a new delivery service option for people living in College Station, Texas. Now, residents of this Texan town have access to medication deliveries via Amazon's Prime Air drone delivery service.

Pharmacy customers can now choose "free drone delivery in less than 60 minutes" at checkout if their item is eligible. Within this timeframe, a pharmacist will load the medications into the drone, which then transports the items directly to the customer's property.

Amazon says people who choose this option will get their medications within 60 minutes of placing an order at no extra cost, even if they are not Amazon Prime members. However, the customer must sign up with Prime Air and participate in a survey of their location.

In addition to prescription drugs, College Station residents selecting drone delivery can choose from over 500 medications for a wide range of common health conditions.

Although the company plans to expand medication drone delivery to other cities, the timeline for expansion is unclear.

How do Amazon drones deliver?

Prime Air MK27-2 drones are larger than typical drones and operate at altitudes with minimal obstacles. Using advanced sense-and-avoid technology, these drones have sensors and cameras that allow them to navigate safely around people, pets, and power lines.

The cameras on the drones are linked to a neural network trained to identify objects. Upon reaching the customer's home, the drone lowers itself above a designated delivery marker. During this process, it uses computer vision to detect any obstructions on the ground, such as people and animals, ensuring a clear path.

Once the delivery zone is clear, the drone releases the package several feet above the ground, ascends to its designated altitude, and returns to the delivery center. This entire process requires no customer interaction with the drone.

Amazon is one of a select few drone delivery companies to have obtained a Federal Aviation Administration air carrier certificate, which is necessary for operating drones with advanced capabilities.

Since December 2022, Amazon's drones have delivered hundreds of household items in College Station. Drone delivery of household goods is also available in Lockeford, California.

In an Amazon news release, Vin Gupta, Chief Medical Officer of Amazon Pharmacy, said, "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."

Drone medication delivery is not the only health-related service offered by Amazon. In August, the retail giant entered the telehealth space with Amazon Clinic — a virtual health clinic that allows patients to visit a healthcare provider online.

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