Amazon will start drone delivery in Lockford, California this year
Amazon says it will begin delivering parcels by drone to shoppers for the first time later this year, pending final regulatory approval.
It says users in the city of Lockford, California will be able to sign up to have thousands of items delivered to their homes by air.
The shopping giant has promised drone delivery for years, but has faced delays and setbacks.
But it said it plans to roll out the service more widely after Lockford.
“The promise of drone delivery has often felt like science fiction,” it said in a blog post. “[But] later this year, Amazon customers living in Lockford, Calif., will become the first to receive Prime Air delivery.
“Their feedback about Prime Air will help us build a service that will scale securely to meet the needs of customers everywhere.”
Amazon said the drone would be programmed to drop off parcels in the backyards of customers in Lockford, which has a population of about 4,000 people.
They will be able to fly “out of sight”, meaning they do not need to be controlled by a visual observer and instead use sensors to avoid other aircraft, people, pets and obstacles.
The retailer said it aims to deliver secure packages to customers in less than an hour.
In the past, Amazon has been accused of using drone delivery promises as a headline-grabber to further its hype around its Prime membership service.
In 2013, former boss and founder Jeff Bezos pledged to fill the skies with a fleet of delivery drones within five years. And in 2019, Amazon said it would be delivering drones to customers “within months.”
In April, a report from news site Bloomberg alleged safety concerns over its drones – though the retailer said it “rigorously” tested its flights in compliance with “all applicable regulations.”
In December 2016, the company ran an apparently successful test run in Cambridge, UK. A package was delivered by drone in 13 minutes.
It has since tested drone delivery partnerships with US retailer Walmart and courier firms FedEx and UPS.
Explaining how Prime Air delivery will work, Amazon said: “Once onboard, customers in Lockford will see Prime Air-eligible items on Amazon. They will place an order as they normally would and their order Get estimated arrival time with Status Tracker for .
“For these deliveries, the drone will fly to the designated delivery location, land in the customer’s backyard, and hover at a safe altitude. It will then safely release the package and return to altitude.”