July 13, 2022
Amazon has announced that customers in Lockeford, Calif., will be among the first to receive Prime Air drone deliveries in the U.S. later this year.
The company said Lockeford residents will be able to provide feedback about Prime Air, with drones delivering packages in their backyards, in order to “create a service that will safely scale to meet the needs of customers everywhere – while adding another innovation milestone to the town’s aviation history.” The company said it will also invest in the community by creating new jobs and building partnerships with local organizations.
“Lockeford residents will soon have access to one of the world’s leading delivery innovations,” said Health Flora, a California state assemblyman 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.”
Amazon said it is working with the FAA and local officials in Lockeford to obtain permission to conduct these deliveries, and will continue with that collaboration into the future.
Amazon is not the first company to provide drone delivery services – Walmart and other retailers, along with drone services companies, have performed similar tasks with their drones. Amazon said drones that require visual observers along the route of flight can be deployed quickly, but it limits delivery operations to a small radius.
“We’re building something different,” Amazon said in a blog post announcing the service. “We’ve created a sophisticated and industry-leading sense-and-avoid system that will enable operations without visual observers and allow our drone to operate at greater distances while safely and reliably avoiding other aircraft, people, pets and obstacles.”
The company said its system is built to be safe when in transit, as well as when approaching the ground. When flying to a delivery location, drones need to be able to identify static and moving obstacles, which is accomplished through object detection algorithms. “If obstacles are identified, our drone will automatically change course to safely avoid them,” said Amazon. When the drone delivers a package into a customer’s backyard, the drone ensures that there’s a small area around the delivery location that is clear of any animals, people, or other obstacles.
Amazon said customers in Lockeford will see Prime Air-eligible items on Amazon once they are onboarded, and will receive an estimated arrival time with a status tracker for their order. For drone 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 release the package safely and rise back up to altitude, Amazon said.
For more details on the service, visit this Amazon website.