Amazon fires dozens of Prime Air employees, looks to other manufacturers for its drones

midian182

Posts: 6,170   +51
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What just happened? Amazon has been developing its drone program for seven years now. While it recently appeared to be edging closer to completion, a new report suggests the project has just stumbled, with dozens of staff laid off and the company looking at external manufacturers to help build the devices.

Citing a person familiar with the its plans, the Financial Times reports that Amazon is laying off employees in the research, development, and manufacturing arms of the Prime Air program.

The publication adds that Amazon is now talking to Spain's Aernnova Aerospace and Austria's FACC Aerospace about taking over the creation of its drones' components, though nothing has been finalized yet. The retail giant has also sent requests for proposals to other firms, so it could soon reach agreements with more third-party manufacturers.

An Amazon spokesperson has confirmed Prime Air's "reorganization," describing it as a way to "best align with the needs of our customers and the business."

The source also added that Amazon's dream of regular drone deliveries was still "years away," though development is expected to continue "slowly but surely" at the start of next year.

Amazon is still advertising for staff to work in its Prime Air division, with 57 open roles on its recruitment site, most of which are software and systems-related.

The news comes as a bit of a surprise, considering it was only a few weeks ago when the Federal Aviation Administration granted Amazon approval for drone deliveries. The FAA allowed the company to start testing its drones in US airspace in 2015, but there were limitations to what it could do, including drones remaining within line-of-sight of the pilot and observer. After being issued a Part 135 air carrier certificate, Amazon is allowed to carry goods on small drones "beyond the visual line of sight" of the operator.

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Uncle Al

Posts: 7,582   +6,102
The fact remains that many if not most packages delivered by Amazon are greater than 1 pound and somewhat bulky, not lending itself to drone delivery. While it's a fanciful dream, it's implementation is not only impracticable but in far too many cases, unworkable. Just getting through the 400' limit alone hasn't even been resolved and finding a drone that can carry larger packages, long distances without making multiple stops would fill the skies with drones creating a nightmare scenario for regular air traffic, emergency services. I hope somebody is doing a study of how that many drones could have an affect on communications and a great many other services that "flow" through the air.
 
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mbrowne5061

Posts: 1,684   +959
I don't know, it seems kinda harsh to fire all those employees
This is an example of why as a software developer I refuse to work for a technology company.
Scuttlebutt is they let go of the entire 'aerospace' part their team, mechanical and aerospace engineers. I've heard two stories. The first is that they vastly over-promised and under delivered - partly driven by a a management used to a software development cycle, handling a electromechanical development cycle (the two are completely different). The second story is that the team finished their jobs, found out what requirements Amazon wanted/needed for their envisioned drone fleet, and now they are shopping those requirements around to various contractors for the actual production phase - Amazon didn't feel the need to pay a bunch of aerospace engineers (who command even higher salaries than software developers) now that they had finished their job.

Either way, this story makes me glad I turned them down back when they were trying to recruit me a few years ago. All that work, only to be let go before the finished product is online? Pretty harsh. Even more so, given what covid did the aerospace industry. None of the commercial companies are hiring right now, and there are very few new military airframe contracts coming up right now. And unless they are also good at supersonic flow or rocket motors, most rocket companies aren't going to be interested right now either. Kind of just adds insult to injury.
 

Plutoisaplanet

Posts: 333   +405
Either way, this story makes me glad I turned them down back when they were trying to recruit me a few years ago. All that work, only to be let go before the finished product is online? Pretty harsh. Even more so, given what covid did the aerospace industry. None of the commercial companies are hiring right now, and there are very few new military airframe contracts coming up right now. And unless they are also good at supersonic flow or rocket motors, most rocket companies aren't going to be interested right now either. Kind of just adds insult to injury.
I mean I've had projects canceled on me several times once it was basically complete. Whether the company decided to go in a different direction or new leadership came in and didn't want it anymore, at least I was never fired from it :joy: My employer understood that I was not only valuable for the one project and that it wasn't my fault that the project was canceled.
 

brucek

Posts: 577   +698
TechSpot Elite
would fill the skies with drones
I'm concerned about this too, including for aesthetic reasons. I'm not sure how much noise they make but if they're audible I might have a problem with that too.

The artistic imaginings of our drone futures seem to always involve cute pastoral landscapes with a single drone. Somehow I don't think that's what the fully realized vision will be.
 
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candle_86

Posts: 578   +502
Makes more sense to use large planes and parachute drop the packages, maybe quick the parachutes with a couple of impellers to guide them to the right location.
 

p51d007

Posts: 2,562   +1,842
Why not? They will just out source it to China. With the current administration on the way out, and the Biden-Harris administration on the way in, and, Biden's connections with China, they will just buddy buddy up with China, have them do it, and Amazon will make a ton of money off of their slave labor, and China will get all the meta data.
 
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Robertrogue

Posts: 98   +56
I mean I've had projects canceled on me several times once it was basically complete. Whether the company decided to go in a different direction or new leadership came in and didn't want it anymore, at least I was never fired from it :joy: My employer understood that I was not only valuable for the one project and that it wasn't my fault that the project was canceled.
"with dozens of staff laid off and the company looking at external manufacturers to help build the devices."
They were laid off, not "fired" there is a difference. Usually the best idea is to not be hired on for a "project" but for a position. If the project completes or is no longer profitable you are let go. I was looking forward to seeing the drones try and deliver around here, my dogs would love to catch some noisy drones, I would upload those vids for sure!!
 

Nobina

Posts: 2,719   +2,353
Inb4 Amazon secretly starts loading grenades onto their drones for world domination purposes.