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Amazon Prime Air Pilots Drone Deliveries As Soon As This Year

Amazon Prime members in a small California community will be among the first to try out air-borne drone deliveries later this year, Amazon has announced. Reportedly home to around 3,500 residents, that’s specifically for Prime members in Lockeford, California.

Amazon hasn’t detailed exactly when the deliveries are set to start. But it has provided a deeper look at what that might look like for participants.

To begin with, during the pilot program, residents who use Amazon Prime Air for deliveries via drone will be able to provide feedback to the company. Amazon will incorporate that feedback into the program and into future expansions of Amazon Prime Air. And the drones will be able to deliver packages weighing up to five pounds.

Ultimately, the goal is to ensure deliveries take less than an hour from order placement to delivery. And, of course, to do real-world testing of Amazon’s sense-and-avoid system. That system is engineered to avoid other objects while in the air and to avoid pets and people when landing with the package. Amazon says packages will be delivered via the technology to participants’ backyards.

How is Amazon able to pilot its Prime Air deliveries?

Now, Amazon has been working closely with the FAA since at least 2020. And it’s been exploring drone-based deliveries — including those launched from trucks, ships, and other craft — for years longer still. Some of those explorations found fruition as patents, complete with repair and charging stations for the drones.

The company, for the time being, still appears to be awaiting FAA approval. Making that approval the only apparent remaining hurdle to cross. The retailer seems confident that this year will mark the start of the trials, however. And it’s shown off its newest drone hardware, pictured below and above, in the interim.

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That’s in addition to some other designs that the craft may take once it’s finalized — or for packages of varying weights and sizes. The unmanned aircraft feature a lightweight six-sided design with six blades and a battery of sensors in a sleek build.

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