Amazon has shared an article confirming that it will begin delivering packages by drone later this year, allowing customers in Lockeford, California, to be among the first to try out what might be a ubiquitous and commonplace way of receiving goods from the e-commerce juggernaut in the future. This marks the first time that the company will be using drone technology for customer deliveries in the U.S., following closely on the heels of other retail giants that include Alphabet and Walmart, both of which have already started testing their respective drone delivery services. Lockeford earned the privilege of being the first location to test Amazon’s Prime Air drone delivery service thanks to its links to the aviation industry; Weldon B. Cooke, a former resident, built and flew early planes in the early 1900s.
“Lockeford residents will soon have access to one of the world’s leading delivery innovations,” said California State Assemblyman Heath Flora, who counts Lockeford among his districts. “It’s exciting that Amazon will be listening to the feedback of the San Joaquin County community to inform the future development of this technology.”
We’re building something different. We’ve created a sophisticated and industry-leading sense-and-avoid system that will enable operations without visual observers and allow our drone to operate at greater distances while safely and reliably avoiding other aircraft, people, pets, and obstacles.
We designed our sense-and-avoid system for two main scenarios: to be safe when in transit, and to be safe when approaching the ground. When flying to the delivery location, the drones need to be able to identify static and moving obstacles. Our algorithms use a diverse suite of technologies for object detection. Using this system, our drone can identify a static object in its path, like a chimney. It can also detect moving objects on the horizon, like other aircraft, even when it’s hard for people to see them. If obstacles are identified, our drone will automatically change course to safely avoid them. As our 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.