SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — Amazon announced this week that customers living in Lockeford, California, will be among the first to receive drone deliveries in their backyards.
The online retail giant said it will rely on feedback from Lockeford residents to refine its drone project, dubbed Prime Air. The tiny town in San Joaquin County has a population of just 3,572 residents.
Amazon’s engineering team spent a decade developing drone delivery technology.
“The challenge: How do you get items to customers quickly, cost-effectively, and—most importantly—safely, in less than an hour? It’s relatively easy to use existing technology to fly a light payload a short distance that’s within your line of sight, but it’s a very different challenge to build a network that can deliver to customers across large communities,” Amazon wrote.
“Our teams of hundreds of scientists, engineers, aerospace professionals, and futurists have been working hard to do just that,” Amazon wrote.
The company said its working together with the Federal Aviation Administration and local officials in Lockeford to obtain permission to conduct deliveries from the sky starting later this year.
Customers in Lockeford will see Prime Air-eligible items on Amazon.com. They will place an order as they normally would and receive an estimated arrival time with a status tracker.
According to Amazon, the drones will fly to the designated delivery location, descend to the customer’s backyard, hover, release the package, and rise back up to altitude.
Amazon said its engineers developed 12 different prototypes of drones that can fly to a house and land without colliding into people or objects on the ground.
“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,” Amazon wrote.