Amazon founder Jeff Bezos may have been able to fly into space, but it seems the company's drone delivery system may never even get off the ground.
The Amazon Prime Air initiative debuted in 2016 as a way to provide customers with their orders within half an hour, but now, five years later, former employees at the company's UK office have come forward to express their doubts about the project.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity to Wired, the former employees described a work environment in which managers were put in place to oversee the drone delivery project without any technological knowledge and people would drink at their desks due to a lack of motivation.
Eventually, more than 100 employees at the Cambridge office lost their jobs and dozens of others were moved to other projects, Wired reports, just months after the company laid off dozens of employees working on the project in the United States.
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The Amazon Prime Air initiative debuted in 2016 as a way to provide customers with their orders within half an hour
According to videos posted on the company's website, the drones would travel down an automated track at one of the company's fulfillment centers before taking off
It would then travel as far as 15 miles to touch down in front of the customer's front lawn
Amazon Prime Air was billed as a way for the company to deliver packages weighing less than five pounds within 30 minutes of a customer making an order.
People at an Amazon fulfillment center would process the order and package the shipment, before attaching it to a drone that would go down an automated track and rise into the sky, videos posted to the company's website show.
The drones would then be able to travel 15 miles with the package, guided by a GPS, before descending on the customer's front lawn with the product in tow.
Amazon debuted one of its new electronic delivery drone at its re:MARS conference in June 2019 that was capable of carrying products under five pounds to customers within a 15-mile radius within just half an hour.
Jeff Wilke, Amazon's CEO of worldwide consumer, said at the time that the drone could be used by the company 'within months' to deliver packages.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
By August of that year, the company submitted a petition for Federal Aviation approval of its plans, saying it would deliver packages in areas with low population density and would only carry products weighing five pounds or less, according to CNBC.
The FAA approved the company's request to 'safely and efficiently deliver packages to customers ... beyond the visual line of sight of the operator' just over a year ago.
'This certification is an important step forward for Prime Air and indicates the FAAs confidence in Amazon's operating and safety procedures for an autonomous drone delivery service that will one day deliver packages to our customers around the world,' David Carbon, vice president of Prime Air, said in a statement following the announcement.
'We will continue to develop and refine our technology to fully integrate delivery drones into the airspace and work closely with the FAA and other regulators around the world to realize our vision of 30-minute delivery.'
He added that the company was not yet ready to deploy its fleet, but has been 'actively flying and testing the technology.'
Last November, Amazon Prime Air announced it had reached tentative deals with two external manufacturers, but also said it laid off dozens of its staff members working in