Prime Air: Amazon plans to launch drone delivery service in California

Prime Air: Amazon plans to launch drone delivery service in California
Written by insideindyhomes

Nothing has been heard from Amazon’s delivery drones for a long time. Now the drone delivery service under Prime Air is to become a reality before the end of this year, Amazon promises in a statement on Monday. The plan is to deliver packages by drone in Lockeford, California.

Even the employees don’t really seem to have believed in the project anymore, because Amazon jokes in its announcement about the planned entry into the drone delivery service: “The promise of drone delivery often felt like science fiction. We’ve been working on it for almost a decade, to make them a reality.” But now the challenge of being able to deliver ordered goods quickly, inexpensively and safely by drone in less than an hour seems to have been met. It is particularly difficult to set up a logistics network that can be used to deliver goods to large communities.

Teams of hundreds of scientists, engineers, aerospace experts and futurists “worked hard” to make it happen, Amazon writes. Lockeford is to become a kind of pilot project. It is important that local residents play along. They are supposed to give feedback on how the transaction went when drones deliver the ordered goods in their gardens or in backyards. Only with this information is it possible to set up a service that works and is reliably scalable.

The heart of Prime Air is the Sense and Avoid system. It is intended to enable flight operations without visual contact with the pilot. The drone should deliver goods at greater distances and be able to independently and “safely and reliably” avoid aircraft, people, animals and obstacles. The system should recognize whether it is a static object like a house or a moving object like an airplane. As soon as the drone detects such an object, it will automatically change course to safely avoid it, Amazon promises. When delivering, the drone proceeds in a similar way and ensures that there is no person, animal or object within a certain radius of the delivery location.

Around two dozen different drones have been developed since Prime Air was founded. The latest development is the MK27-2, a six-engine hexacopter. The delivery drone is designed in such a way that its rotors work quietly. Amazon said it worked closely with the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to obtain an aviation certificate authorizing the operation of such drones. However, Amazon does not yet have a permit for the commercial operation of such drones, writes the US tech magazine The Verge. Wing, a subsidiary of Google and UPS already have this permission.

Initially, Lockeford residents will only be able to order a selection of items that are suitable for transport by drone. It should be thousands at first. With the order confirmation, customers then receive an estimated time of arrival and can use a status tracker to see where their delivery is at the moment. The drone then descends into the customer’s garden, hovers at a safe altitude, delivers the package and rises again. Amazon does not provide any more detailed information about the process, but emphasizes that it will show Prime Air’s progress over the next few months with photos and videos.

Former Amazon boss Jeff Bezos first announced the delivery of goods by drone in 2013. His goal: customers should receive their goods within 30 minutes of ordering. Again and again there were setbacks such as crashes and dissatisfied project employees. Then, in 2019, a vertically flying drone should enable entry into the drone delivery business. But nothing came of it either.


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