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Amazon engineers designing face shields for front-line workers at one-third the price of current models

Amazon engineers designing face shields for front-line workers at one-third the price of current models
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Amazon announced Thursday that engineers from its drone delivery unit are developing face shields that will soon be sold to medical professionals on the front lines of the fight against coronavirus. 

Brad Porter, the vice president of Amazon Robotics, said in a blog post that members of Prime Air’s mechanical design and hardware teams are taking the lead in crafting the shields. The company has already delivered 10,000 to medical workers and is hoping to give 20,000 more in the near future.

"Developing a safe and more comfortable design that had never been seen before was one area we used our talents of invention and bias for action to make things better during this crisis," Porter said. "Because of the design innovations and capabilities of our supply chain, we are confident we will be able to list them at a significantly lower price than all other reusable face shields currently available to frontline workers."

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Amazon will initially limit sales of the shields to front-line workers but intends to ultimately provide the products for public consumption.

A spokesperson confirmed to CNBC that the face shields could cost one-third the price of reusable face shields currently on the market, which range from $15 to $35 on Amazon’s website.

The face shields are being adapted from an earlier model created by Washington state residents who crafted their products with 3D printers. The National Institutes of Health has already approved the new reusable design, which is reportedly more comfortable than the original model.

“We have amazing teams creating and building every day. Watching them quickly adapt to the community’s needs during this stressful time and develop a face shield that we’ve heard from medical professionals is one of the best has been such a rewarding experience,” said Porter. “We are committed to leveraging our scale for good and putting our ability to innovate quickly into use to support communities.”

Amazon has already dedicated a section of its websites for hospitals and government agencies to apply for personal protection equipment and other items.

Several tech giants have sought to provide their services during the coronavirus pandemic, with Apple and Google joining forces to help implement contact tracing on smartphones and Microsoft announcing a “plasmabot” that would encourage people who have recovered from the illness to donate their plasma.