Amazon recently stopped testing its Scout sidewalk delivery robot and made other decisions that indicate it is scaling back on experimental plans. It looks like development of its delivery drone for Prime Air is continuing, as the e-commerce giant has just released a preview of its next-gen machine. The MK30 was designed to be lighter than the current model dubbed MK27-2. It will still have six rotors like its predecessor, based on the images shared by the e-commerce giant, except it no longer has a full hexagonal frame.
The e-commerce giant is expected to begin drone deliveries to College Station, Texas and Lockeford, Calif. later this year to help it gauge people’s interest in flying their orders and dropping them off in their yards. Amazon will use the MK27-2 for these tests – this model will not be in service until 2024. The company claims the MK30 has a longer range than the MK27-2, has a higher temperature tolerance and has the ability to fly in light rain. Additionally, Prime Air’s Flight Science team has designed new propellers that will apparently reduce the noise perceived by the new drone by around 25%.
The company’s drones aren’t that loud initially – according to the FAA’s Draft Environmental Assessment (PDF) of drone package deliveries to College Station, the noise the MK27-2 makes is unlikely to cause disturbance and should “not affect wildlife”. However, Amazon sees reducing the noise of its drones as a significant engineering challenge, and it believes all the qualities of the MK30 combined would allow customers to “choose drone delivery more often.” The company did not reveal a specific plan. for expanding drone delivery in his post, but he promises to make the service available “to more customers in the months and years to come.”