Amazon’s Latest Innovations: Drones, AI & ML, Computer Vision, Robotics & Automation

Liz Dominguez
Managing Editor
Liz
Drone Delivery Amazon

Amazon has been bolstering its digital capabilities for several years now, tying its advancements into sustainability goals, supply chain optimization efforts, pharmacy growth, and more. During its annual Delivering the Future event, the company shared some of its latest innovations. 

The event, held at Amazon’s fulfillment center and innovation lab near Seattle, Washington, shed light on program expansions across drone delivery, robotic systems, and waste reduction. 

Drone Delivery

The company has been implementing drones across several efforts, including for Amazon Prime fulfillment and even to deliver medications through its pharmacy services. Via Prime Air, the company expects to launch drone deliveries to a third of U.S. states, expanding into Italy and the UK by the end of 2024. 

“Moving forward, we’ll be integrating drones into the Amazon delivery network. In the U.S., our new drone delivery operations will operate out of some of our same-day delivery sites,” said Amazon during the event. “These sites offer a selection of products that are well aligned with things customers want and need fast, and what drones can safely deliver.”

Amazon plans to also launch drone delivery through Amazon pharmacy. The service is first launching for eligible customers in College Station, Texas, with customers receiving their orders within 60 minutes of placing it, and having access to more than 500 common medications.

As far as drone type, Amazon just gave a first-look of its MK30 drone, launching in 2024. The drone features propellers that reduce noise by nearly half compared to others, can fly twice as far as the current MK27 model, and can operate in “more diverse weather, like light rain.”

Machine Learning, Computer Vision, Artificial Intelligence

Amazon is also elevating its pharmacy experience by leveraging AI and machine learning. The company is looking to improve efficiency across clinician-placed prescriptions by implementing entity recognition to convert data forms based on what’s required for processing prescriptions. 

[Read more: Amazon, Walmart, and Others Take Action to Build Back Trust in the Age of AI]

The company is also using computer vision for quality assurance to ensure the accuracy of pill packs, and machine learning to estimate insurance copay prices before consumers place their order on Amazon.com.

Additionally, generative AI is cropping up within Amazon’s pharmacy customer service support to elevate and expedite the experience. 

Amazon Fulfillment

Within fulfillment, the company is using AI-powered tech to automate post-trip inspections and maintain fleet safety via a new Automated Vehicle Inspection capability.

This tech is being rolled out at Amazon delivery stations across Canada, Germany, the UK, and the U.S. in partnership with tech startup UVeye.

AI is also being used in disaster relief, with Amazon using its voice AI tech to help communities prepare for and respond to disasters. 

Robotics and Automation

Amazon has partnered with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Ipsos within its workforce safety efforts. The company is looking to leverage robotics to automate processes and support careers as new tech emerges. 

The company's ongoing robotics investment is currently reducing repetitive motions, simplifying the fulfillment process. For example, with its Sequoia tech, Amazon can better identify and store inventory it receives at sites up to 75% faster than it currently does. 

Amazon is also tapping automation for its fulfillment center in Euclid, Ohio, furthering its sustainability progress by fully replacing plastic delivery packaging with paper packaging that is curbside recyclable.

  • Taking a Look Back: Value Chain Efforts Continue Transforming Fulfillment

    Earlier this year, the company transitioned its stores’ fulfillment and transportation network from one national network in the United States to eight separate regions serving smaller geographic areas. It’s also expanded the number of smaller, same-day delivery facilities, which it plans to double. 

    “While we're seeing strong early results from this regionalization effort, we still see several ways in which we can be more efficient in this structure and we believe will improve productivity further, “We've also reevaluated virtually every part of our fulfillment network this past year and see additional structural changes we can make that provide future upside.” 

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