Amazon Prime Air drones crash in UK: over 100 layoffs in ‘dysfunctional’ project
It looked like a Pixar movie. The traditional courier was no longer (so) necessary, and instead of guys on motorcycles or vans those who would deliver the packages at home would be drones. Drones flying in harmony everywhere.
That was Amazon’s dream, but things don’t seem to be going well. It is what at least happens in the United Kingdom, where the project of Amazon Prime Air has a complicated future. There have been more than 100 layoffs and employees talk about how the project was “collapsing internally” and was “dysfunctional.”
Myths and realities of a project that has not just taken off
Five years ago Amazon talked about how the tests began delivery of parcels in the UK using drones. The thing seemed to be looking good and Amazon did not stop innovating. It even created a curious self-destruct system to prevent that if a drone fell, it would harm the civilian population.
However, for some time now, the news about the revolutionary message of sending packages has been dispersing. We learned two years ago that Amazon had developed a new version of the messenger drone of the company that was also strengthened in its artificial intelligence systems, but since then the project has hardly seemed to advance.
In conversations with Wired UK, some anonymous employees have confirmed that Amazon has laid off more than 100 of the Amazon Prime Air project staff there, but in addition “dozens” of positions have been transferred to other projects.
The project began to enter a dangerous phase in late 2019, when employee and manager rotations became frequent. Stress – an employee recounted how he had three different bosses in a month – and chaos seemed to take over a project that tried to solve problems with threats in the air (birds) and the recognition of land surfaces.
To this problem was added that of some drones that they were getting heavier (about 27 kg) and that they had to land (or stay very close to the ground) to deposit the package, something that complicated things a lot compared to staying at a certain height and simply “dropping” the packages.
Technical and management problems – with managers “disconnected from reality”, according to those interviewed employees – have led to the project being classified as “dysfunctional”. For those employees the dream of drone messaging “will never take off”.
Via | Wired UK