Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

Amazon started working on package deliveries with drones in 2013, but over a decade later, the company still hasn’t figured that out. Prime Air deliveries are still in a trial stage, and now Amazon is ending its tests in one city while working on another test market.

Amazon is ending its drone delivery operations in Lockeford, California, one of its earliest U.S. test sites for the Prime Air project. The way we should see this, however, is as a small setback. The company, while prioritizing resources for future growth, has opted to close its Lockeford delivery site, but it plans to continue expanding drone deliveries to more U.S. cities, aiming for 2025, and will open operations in part of the Phoenix area later in the current year.

Employees that have been working on this in the town will be offered opportunities at other locations, and residents can still utilize alternative delivery methods, such as regular Amazon deliveries and Prime deliveries. Amazon is currently conducting test flights for its new MK30 delivery drone, designed to be smaller, quieter, and capable of flying in light rain.

Despite receiving Part 135 certification from the FAA in 2020, allowing drone package delivery with certain restrictions, Prime Air’s progress has faced delays. Originally slated for testing in College Station, Texas, and Lockeford in 2022, the program encountered setbacks, including layoffs, regulatory issues, and executive departures. Some residents in Lockeford also threatened to shoot down Amazon’s drones, but those might have just been jokes. Last October, the FAA eased restrictions, permitting drones to fly over roadways and vehicles as necessary to complete routes.

Additionally, Amazon recently struck a deal with Embention, a developer of autopilot systems for drones, to enhance safety with specialized hardware and software. So technically, now it should be just a matter of getting deliveries right and rolling out the technology country-wide. Amazon has been promising drone deliveries for years now, though, and there hasn’t been a significant breakthrough in drone technology in the past few years that would suddenly make them more viable. They still can’t carry large packages or fly in difficult weather, and they have a limited range.

Source: CNBC

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By John P.

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