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Depending on final regulatory approval, Amazon says it will begin delivering packages to customers by drone for the first time later this year.

Amazon to start drone deliveries in California this year

Users in Lockeford, California, will be able to sign up to have thousands of items delivered to their homes by air, according to the company. For years, Amazon has promised drone delivery, but there have been delays and reported setbacks.

However, it stated that after Lockeford, it planned to expand the service. In a blog post, it stated, “The promise of drone delivery has often felt like science fiction.” “However, Amazon customers in Lockeford, California, will be among the first to receive Prime Air deliveries later this year.”

“Their feedback on Prime Air will aid us in developing a service that can safely scale to meet the needs of customers all over the world.” The drones will be programmed to deliver packages to customers’ backyards in Lockeford, which has a population of about 4,000 people, according to Amazon.

They will be able to fly “beyond-line-of-sight,” which means they will be able to avoid other aircraft, people, pets, and obstacles without the need for a visual observer. The goal, according to the retailer, is to deliver packages to customers in less than an hour.

“The drone will fly to the designated delivery location, descend to the customer’s backyard, and hover at a safe height for these deliveries. It will then release the package safely and return to altitude.”

Amazon has been accused in the past of using the promise of drone delivery as a headline-grabber to promote its Prime membership service. Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s former CEO and founder, pledged in 2013 to fill the skies with a fleet of delivery drones within five years. In 2019, Amazon announced that it would begin delivering to customers via drone “within months.”

Bloomberg reported in April that the retailer’s drones were unsafe, despite the retailer claiming that it “rigorously” tested its flights in accordance with “all applicable regulations.” The company conducted an apparently successful trial in Cambridge, UK, in December 2016. In 13 minutes, a package was delivered by drone.

Since then, it has tested drone delivery partnerships with Walmart in the United States and courier companies FedEx and UPS. “Once onboarded, customers in Lockeford will see Prime Air-eligible items on Amazon,” Amazon said, explaining how Prime Air deliveries would work. They will place an order as usual and receive an estimated arrival time as well as an order status tracker.

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