Amazon Launches a Drone “Smart Hub” in Greece
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is “all in” when it comes to drones. Not content to establish one of the nation’s largest remote aerial package delivery services – it just got underway after many delays in Lockeford, CA and College Station, TX – Bezos has launched an even more ambitious effort overseas: the creation of a drone “smart hub” on the Greek island of Naxos.
The idea for the hub originated with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who first proposed it to Bezos in the summer of 2021. Bezos took the idea to heart and quickly set about fashioning a plan that includes the use of drones to manage the island’s boat marinas and to distribute consumer goods by air much as Amazon has begun to do in the United States. Trial drone flights got underway in mid-2022 and will continue through 2023, Amazon says.
The drones being tested are of Greek design and manufacture, part of the country’s ambitious plan to build its own drone industry, which currently lags behind many of its European counterparts. Greece is also planning to lend its drones to its Coast Guard to patrol the country’s vast archipelago for defense purposes and to respond to marine incidents. In addition, the drones will complement Greece’s expanding telemedicine system by facilitating emergency medical supply deliveries.
Drones aren’t the only element of Greece’s emerging “smart management” plan for Naxos. Amazon is working with other corporate stakeholders to replace the island’s conventionally-fueled commercial and utility vehicles with 1,000 electric vehicles (EV) and to install the infrastructure for an estimated 200 widely dispersed charging stations that can also service private EV owners.
Greece has ambitious plans to make a number of its exotic islands more attractive not just for tourists but also for permanent settlers. Amazon’s drone plans for Naxos will likely be duplicated in Astypalaia, an island that Greece says will be run entirely on “green” energy, officials say.
In addition to drones and EVs, Greece plans to install an extensive network of bikes and e-scooters and to institute vehicle sharing plans and sustainable public transportation hubs to reduce the carbon footprint of visitors and residents.
Greece’s first locally-produced drone, the Archytas, first came on line late last year. A second drone, the Griffin, is currently in the prototype stage. Both drones are likely to be integrated into the nation’s defense force structure, officials say. However, Amazon’s drone support will be limited to “civil protection” functions as well as to civilian transport missions in Naxos and other islands.