Amazon has been trying to deliver packages with remote-controlled drones for years, but work has been slow-going. Now the company is testing drone deliveries in two areas of the United States.
David Carbon, the VP running Amazon’s “Prime Air” division, announced on LinkedIn that the company made its first drone deliveries “from our new sites in TX and CA.” Amazon confirmed to FOX 40 News that deliveries are ongoing in Lockeford, California, an unincorporated county roughly 40 miles south of Sacramento, and College Station, Texas, home to Texas A&M University.
Carbon said in the LinkedIn post, “these are careful first steps that we will turn into giant leaps for our customers over the next number of years.” An Amazon spokesperson told FOX 40 News, “our aim is to safely introduce our drones to the skies. We are starting in these communities and will gradually expand deliveries to more customers over time.”
Drones have a much more limited weight capacity than trucks, so only small and light packages can be delivered. The drone flies to a customer’s backyard — so most apartments and condominiums are probably off-limits — then descends enough to drop a package, and flies away.
Amazon has been working on drone deliveries since at least 2013, when the service was estimated to be “available to customers in as soon as 4-5 years.” The first delivery was on December 7, 2016 in England, which the company says was a completely autonomous flight with no human pilot.
Even with real-world trials ongoing, it’s unclear if Amazon will ever roll out widespread drone deliveries. Business Insider reported earlier this year that drone deliveries were costing Amazon around $484 per package, and the company was working towards dropping that to $63 per package by 2025. The company’s test trials also haven’t been perfect — one drone crashed in Oregon and set off a bush fire, thankfully without causing any injuries or deaths. Still, the company is pressing on towards a future with fewer human drivers and their annoying tendency to take occasional restroom breaks.
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