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Amazon to start drone delivery service in California

Photo: Amazon

Photo: Amazon

Amazon customers in Lockeford, California, will be among the first to receive Prime Air drone deliveries in the United States, later this year. According to an Amazon blog, the company has been working for almost a decade to make it a reality.

Customers in Lockeford will see Prime Air-eligible items on Amazon. They will place an order as usual and receive an estimated arrival time with a status tracker for their order. For these deliveries, the drone will fly to the designated delivery location, descend to the customer’s backyard, and hover at a safe height. It will then safely release the package and rise back up to altitude.

Customer feedback about Prime Air, with drones delivering packages in their backyards, will help Amazon create a service that will safely scale to meet the needs of customers everywhere, according to the company.

“Lockeford residents will soon have access to one of the world’s leading delivery innovations,” said California State Assemblyman Heath Flora, whose district includes Lockeford. “It’s exciting that Amazon will be listening to the feedback of the San Joaquin County community to inform the future development of this technology.”

“We are working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and local officials in Lockeford to obtain permission to conduct these deliveries and will continue with that collaboration into the future,” the blog said.

Amazon designed its drones’ sense-and-avoid system for two main scenarios: to be safe when in transit, and to be safe when approaching the ground. Its algorithms use a diverse suite of technologies for object detection, enabling it to identify a static object in its path, such as a chimney. It can also detect moving objects on the horizon, such as other aircraft, even when it’s hard for people to see them.

When obstacles are identified, the Amazon Prime drone will automatically change course to safely avoid them. As the drone descends to deliver a package into a customer’s backyard, it ensures that there’s a small area around the delivery location that is clear of  people, animals or other obstacles.

Prime Air is one of three drone-delivery companies that has gone through the rigorous process to earn an FAA air carrier certificate, which will be required to operate drones using these advanced capabilities.

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