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Amazon Drone Deliveries Become a Reality in California Town

Amazon Drone Deliveries Become a Reality in California Town

Remember when Amazon founder (and then-CEO) Jeff Bezos went on the 60 Minutes television show 9 years ago and revealed he was working on drones to deliver packages to Amazon customers? It seemed like science fiction. (David shared his reaction to Bezos’s big reveal in 2013 on the EcommerceBytes blog.)

Now it’s close to reality – later this year, Amazon will make Prime Air drone deliveries to customers in Lockeford, California, a town of 8.4 square miles with a population of about 3,500 whose main attraction appear to be its wineries.

In a blog post on Monday, Amazon said, “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.”

Amazon shared that its Prime Air drones can fly up to 50 miles per hour up to an altitude of 400ft.

Obviously not every item for sale on the Amazon Marketplace is suitable for delivery by drone – one limitation is the weight of items: the drones can carry packages weighing up to 5lbs. Thus, Amazon will show eligible customers in Lockeford which items are Prime Air-eligible when they’re shopping.

To fulfill items, an Amazon drone will fly to a buyer’s 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.

Amazon provided additional details about its “sense-and-avoid” system:

“When flying to the delivery location and back, Amazon drones can identify static objects (like chimneys) and moving obstacles (like other aircraft).

“If obstacles are detected, Amazon drones will automatically change course to safely avoid them. As the drone descends to deliver the package into a customer’s backyard, the drone ensures that there’s a small area around the delivery location that’s clear of any people, animals, or other obstacles.”

Another interesting point: “Since the inception of Prime Air, we have designed, built, and tested many drones. In fact, we’ve created more than two dozen prototypes,” Amazon said. You can read more on Amazon blog on the AboutAmazon.com website.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.

4 thoughts on “Amazon Drone Deliveries Become a Reality in California Town”

  1. Oh noes! Did the drones drop things on people’s heads? You smell what the lawyers are cookin’?

  2. They have used drones in my town for years. Not in every area but for subdivisions. The driver parks in one place and sends out drones throughout the subdivision.

  3. Always had this question :
    How do you keep the drones from being shot down ?
    ‘Cause we don’t “Take Kindly” to drones in my neck o’ the woods…..

  4. Drone delivery is a reality. At the same time it will only be a gimmick. No way it could handle the weight & volume of most of the packages..

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