Amazon Expanding Same-Day Package Pickup to University of Pennsylvania

The service, which starts this spring, will let Amazon shoppers pick up their purchases on the campus on the same day they place an order.

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Amazon is expanding its same-day college order pickup service to the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia this spring as it continues to experiment with new ways of delivering products to its customers.

The service, which is being called [email protected], will feature a pickup point where customers will be able to stop in to get their orders from some two million items that can be directly shipped to the location, according to a Jan. 12 announcement by the company. Customers will be able to track the orders on their mobile devices for self-service pickups.

Since 2015, Amazon has already set up similar college campus package pickup points at Purdue University, the University of Massachusetts, the University of Cincinnati and for students of colleges in Isla Vista, Calif., but this is the first such program at an Ivy League school, according to the company. Two more planned facilities are also scheduled to open in 2016 at the University of California, Davis and at the University of California, Berkeley.

The Amazon college pickup points can also be used by customers to return items to Amazon.

At the University of Pennsylvania, the [email protected] facility will be in a 3,558-square-foot office in 1920 Commons, which is the University's largest dining facility, so it can provide easy access for Penn students whether they live on or off campus, according to Amazon. The latest facility will be the first Amazon pickup location that will feature communal work spaces with interactive media pods where students can connect their laptops and mobile devices to TV monitors for presentations, brainstorming, studying and collaborating, according to Amazon.

Same-day pickups will be available to members of the company's Amazon Student and Amazon Prime programs for orders placed by noon and free one-day pickup for orders placed by 10 p.m.

"The preference by today's students for on-line shopping has led to a significant increase in deliveries," Marie Witt, vice president of business services at Penn, said in a statement. "When we looked closely at the shipping activity, we discovered that almost half of all packages delivered to Penn student mail rooms were from Amazon. With this innovative shipping solution we can now offer enhanced convenience and security for a service that our students were already using, while also providing additional community space within easy access of most student residences."

The Amazon Student shipping program provides free two-day shipping on millions of items, along with special offers and promotions, for $49 a year after a six-month free trial, to college and university students. The Amazon Prime service costs $99 a year and provides free two-day shipping for Amazon customers on thousands of items. Both services also include free access to thousands of movies, television episodes through Prime Video and unlimited ad-free music streaming through Amazon Prime Music.

"We're thrilled to bring a new experience to Penn that makes it more convenient for students to get everything they need for university life," Ripley MacDonald, director of Amazon student programs, said in a statement. "We look forward to bringing this experience to even more college communities soon."

In November, Amazon unveiled its latest drone prototype aircraft for its still-in-development Prime Air package delivery system, this time with a model that takes off and lands vertically but flies on a horizontal flight path to its destination. The company showed off its latest drone design in a 2-minute, 17-second video it posted on its Website on Nov. 29, highlighting a smooth vertical takeoff, a flight to drop off a package of soccer shoes to a consumer and then a vertical landing at the shopper's home. The video showed the package being released from an interior storage compartment in its fuselage and then being left behind as the drone took off vertically to return to Amazon's distribution center.

The drone design is a flat-looking flying machine with a triple rudder tail and three landing wheels. Its engine is mounted at the rear in the center of the vertical rudders.

Amazon's drone program is aimed at providing package deliveries of less than five pounds to consumers in less than 30 minutes in select locations. The drones will fly under 400 feet in altitude, have "sense and avoid" capabilities to stay away from aircraft and other obstacles, and be able to be operated up to distances of 10 miles or more, according to Amazon.

Amazon has been looking at drone deliveries as a way of offering faster service to customers while also saving money, compared with the more-costly human-based delivery systems.