Amazon Unveils Smaller Delivery Drone That Can Fly in Rain

Amazon on Thursday unveiled the design for a new delivery drone that promises to be smaller, quieter and capable of flying in light rain.

The drone, called the MK30, is due to go into service in 2024, the tech giant said in a blog post Thursday. It’s smaller and lighter than the MK27-2, the drone that’ll be used to make deliveries in Lockeford, California, and College Station, Texas, later this year.

The new design allows for increased range, expanded temperature tolerance and new safety features, Amazon said.

Amazon helped kick off the drone delivery idea with the 2013 announcement of Prime Air, promising one-hour delivery times for thousands of items in Amazon’s warehouses. In 2020, it gains approval for the drones from the Federal Aviation Administration, before scaling back the project the following year.

Its current fleet of delivery drones fly 400 feet above the ground at speeds up to 50 mph carrying packages up to 5 pounds within a range of about 9 miles.

In addition to safety and privacy concerns, noise is an issue that’s raised anxiety for residents in the drones’ flight paths. To address that issue, Amazon said the MK30 will feature custom-designed propellers that’ll reduce the drones’ noise by 25%.

Amazon said in July that it would begin using drones to deliver packages to residents of College Station, Texas. The e-commerce giant in June also announced plans to begin drone deliveries in Lockeford, Californianear Sacramento.