Amazon's Prime Air drone delivery service set to fly in California this year
We first heard of Amazon's plans to delivery Prime packages by drone way back in 2013, followed by the start of testing a couple of years later. The company reckoned that the service was just months away in 2019, but now it actually looks like it's happening – at least for Prime members in Lockeford, California.
In the years since the initial Prime Air drone delivery announcement, Amazon says it's created more than two dozen prototypes, and has been working on obstacle-avoidance technology that can detect both static and moving objects in the flight path and plot a route around them. The same sense-and-avoid system will also allow the drone to land its payload in an area free of people, animals and so on.
Pending approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, customers in Lockeford will be among the first to receive deliveries in their backyards by Prime Air drones later this year. And to support the service, Amazon says that it will "be investing in the community, creating new jobs, building partnerships with local organizations."
The latest press release doesn't go into specifics on what kind of everyday items will be suitable for drone delivery, but previous iterations have been capable of a total per-trip cargo weight of under 5 lb (2.2 kg). The thousands of eligible items will be marked as such for Lockeford customers, who will receive an estimated delivery slot and be able to track their order.
When the drone reaches the drop-off location "in one hour or less," it will descend from flight altitude to hover over the customer's yard, lower and release the package and then return to base.
More information is expected closer to actual launch, and if the Lockeford project proves successful, Amazon expects to expand the program to more customers in the near future.