Later this year Amazon customers in Lockeford, California may start to see some packages delivered by aerial drones instead of being dropped off by a truck or van driver.

It’s the next step for Amazon Prime Air, a delivery-by-drone initiative that Amazon first unveiled in 2013, but which has only been deployed in very small scale tests up until now. But Amazon seems confident that the technology is ready for a larger pilot project… although it’s not that large a pilot program. Lockeford has a population of just over 3,500 people.

Amazon Prime Air drone MK27-2

If everything goes according to plan, Amazon customers in Lockeford will be able to opt into Prime Air deliveries, and they’ll see eligible items when shopping. Once an order is placed, Amazon will get to work processing and shipping the order… but instead of packing it on a truck and driving it to the customer’s door, the company will use a drone to fly the package to its final destination.

There’s still a chance things won’t go according to plan though. Amazon says that it’s been “working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and local officials in Lockeford to obtain permission to conduct these deliveries,” which seems to indicate that not all of those permissions are in place just yet.

But theoretically the technology could allow Amazon to deliver packages to locations that might be harder or less fuel-efficient to reach by road. In order to cut down on the risks of losing a package (or a drone), Amazon says it’s developed technology that allows its drones to detect and avoid obstacles (including “other aircraft, people, pets”) even when there’s not a person nearby to guide the drone.

Amazon says its latest drone design (MK27-2) has a hexagonal design, six propellers that have been designed to produce less high-frequency noise, and six degrees of freedom for improved stability during flight.

Amazon hasn’t provided information about how much weight its latest drones can carry or how far they can travel, but at this point it’s probably safe to say that only a small subset of the items the company sells will be eligible for drone delivery. Amazon says “thousands of everyday items” will be available though.

There’s no word on if or when Prime Air will roll out to other communities, but it will likely depend on how things go in Lockeford.

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8 replies on “Amazon Prime Air drone deliveries inch closer to taking flight”

  1. I see you have a talk like in board directors of some big company. Steal what and how😎😎😎 Keep up and soon will be promoted to CEO’s position:-)

  2. Time to start my career as an aerial package thief. EMP, radio jammers, net guns?

    1. More like you just grab the package off the porch/end of driveway once the drone leaves it. Unless they start delivering packages on balconies, or people get to schedule the delivery so it only happens when you’re home.
      I don’t think net guns would work very reliably against shrouded rotor drones, and the net cartridge could likely cost more than whatever you’re trying to steal. An EMP device would probably be your best bet of actually knocking one down, but considering that military solutions (meant to disable large swarms at relatively high altitude) are about the size of a cargo container you’d likely need something mounted on and powered by a car, which is of course way too obvious (and expensive). Besides, if you knock a drone out of the air, it falls on its package and you risk damaging your quarry.

      1. Delivery to a balcony seems like the perfect application of this technology. It needs a niche, otherwise it’s just impractical.

        1. Not everyone has a balcony though.
          I think absurdly-on-demand delivery is more likely. The drones are just going to go directly from the warehouse to the drop off point, and that could be your phone’s current position as long as you’re outside.

          1. Right. Just those with drone-accessible balconies would fit that niche. Like my balcony right now has hanging sunshades at the edge so there’s no way a drone could even land there.

            I like the idea of delivery to your phone’s current location, maybe with an additional 2-factor authorization code upon receipt or something.

        2. Maybe you’d like your tp to wipe your ass too? Go get your own stuff you lazy slug

      2. I feel like there’s something more morally redeeming about stealing it while it is still technically in Amazon’s possession. Because it will count as undelivered, and ultimately avoid any loss to the recipient.

        I wonder what one of these drones is worth. Maybe drone theft is a better angle?

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