Amazon to launch drone deliveries this year in California

Amazon to launch drone deliveries this year in California

Amazon Prime customers living in Lockeford, California will receive package deliveries by drones later in the year, Amazon announced Monday. That would make the community of 3,500 among the first U.S. locations to enjoy free drone delivery within 30 minutes — a promise that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos first made nearly a decade ago. A spokesperson for Amazon, Av Zammit, stated that the ecommerce company began contacting Lockeford customers this week to request their consent to drone delivery. Zammit said that once a customer has signed up, an Amazon employee will visit their yard to verify that it is ready for drone deliveries.

Drone delivery is free for Prime members. Only Prime members can use this service. Zammit stated that drone delivery will be possible for thousands of items, but declined to provide more details.

Amazon stated that it was working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and local regulators in order to obtain permits for the program. According to a blog post , Lockeford was also mentioned as a place for flight experiments.

“Lockeford residents will play an important role in defining the future. Their feedback on Prime Air, with drones delivering packages to their backyards, “will help us create services that will safely scale for the needs of customers all over the world,” the blog post stated. It predicted that drone deliveries could one day be as common as Amazon delivery vans pulling up outside your home. “

Amazon received FAA approval for its commercial drone-delivery program in 2020. However, drones must comply with both local and federal regulations.

Walmart launches on-demand drone deliveries 02: 39

Walmart, UPS readying their drones

Amazon is largely responsible for setting off the current race to commercialize drone package delivery, according to Zak Stambor, senior analyst of retail and ecommerce at Insider Intelligence. When Bezos laid out his vision for drones to 60 Minutes in 2013, “He spurred everyone else to move into that space,” Stambor said. Other large retailers and technology companies are developing their own drone programs. Walmart started testing drone delivery last year in Arkansas and plans to expand to sites across six states this year. Alphabet’s drone delivery program, called Wing, launched this summer near Dallas-Fort Worth, delivering prescriptions, pet medication and ice cream. UPS is also developing a drone service. According to media reports,

Amazon has had its own drone program hampered by delays and staff churn. At least eight Amazon drones have crashed over the past year, and the Prime Air division is experiencing 71% staff turnover, Business Insider reported in March. A Bloomberg News investigation in April concluded that despite spending $2 billion to develop the program and hiring more than 1,000 workers, “Amazon is a long way from launching a drone delivery service. “

Amazon’s most recent drone model, with six rotors, designed for stability.

Rising energy costs and a tight labor market are heightening retailers’ current interest in drones, said Stambor.

” You can see why drone delivery makes sense in a time when it is difficult to hire truck drivers. Stambor stated that gas prices are on the rise and there is no end in sight.

But drone delivery faces “a host of difficulties, in terms, largely safety and costs,” making the question unclear if drones are able to solve current logistical bottlenecks. Drone delivery can be more expensive than truck delivery and requires a trained operator, Stambor stated. One internal Amazon estimate puts the cost of an airlifted package at $63, compared to about $5 when the same package is shipped by a third-party carrier like UPS or the U.S. Post Office.

Insider Intelligence estimates that there will be 39,000 drone deliveries this year, and 69,000 next year.

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