News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Amazon Robots Make Possible One-Hour 'Prime Now' Deliveries In North Texas

Forget to buy your vitamins? How about that last minute gift? Or need your favorite book for that weekend trip? Now, online shoppers in North Texas can get tens of thousands of items from Amazon delivered in an hour or less. The new service -- Prime Now -- is available in 24 zip codes in the Dallas/ Fort Worth area.

Inside a distribution center the size of 25 football fields, a six-ton robot called Robo-Stow lifts its metal arm.

“That robot you’re seeing there, we think is earth’s largest robot,” says Kelly Cheeseman, a spokeswoman for Seattle-based Amazon. “It lifts pallets 24 feet in the air, directly onto Amazon robots that then take those pallets to be stored within this million square foot building.”

She says all the noise in the background is a symphony of advanced technology that makes it possible for the e-commerce giant to deliver products faster than ever.  

“As the boxes come here, they get weighed,” she says. “And that’s actually a quality assurance measure. The computer system knows how much that box should weigh. Once the weight is taken, and assuming all is OK, which the majority of time it is, then the box gets scanned. Within seconds, this system here creates this shipping label with the customer name and address on it, as you see it coming down the line.”   

An Amazon Prime membership costs $99 a year. One-hour delivery? Eight bucks per shipment. Brian Harris owns a guitar shop off Royal Lane in Dallas. His zip code is not included in Amazon’s latest expansion. And that’s fine with him.

“It’s not enough that they can deliver to you in a day, but within an hour?” Harris says. “I mean, how, what is wrong with you. Why? How do you? I can understand if it’s a heart or liver, or something. You can’t buy those on Amazon. I have no need for it.”    

But for John Bradley, an Amazon Prime member, the new service is welcome news.

“I was excited when I saw the news Amazon will be offering one-hour service in Dallas,” he said. “And I’m actually going to order some shoes I’ve been eyeing!”

On Twitter, Bradley praised Amazon for making this only the fourth U.S. city to get one-hour delivery.

“Pretty cool for Dallas,” he said.

Amazon says its new mobile app will inform ‘Prime Now’ customers when the one-hour delivery service will expand into more zip codes.  

Videos: Watch the robots in action

Take a closer look at some of Amazon's robots at various facilities across the country.

Doualy Xaykaothao is a newscaster and reporter for NPR, based in Culver City. She returned to NPR for this role in 2018, and is responsible for writing, producing, and delivering national newscasts. She also reports on breaking news stories for NPR.