from the Amazon drone delivery The service finally took off with the people of Lockeford, California being the first to receive packages through the Prime Air program later this year.
The way the service works, according to amazon (opens in new tab), is that customers who live in Lockeford will begin to see items in the online store that are eligible for Prime Air delivery. You order normally. You will then receive a status tracker with an estimated order arrival time as the drone flies to your destination.
The drone will fly to a space above your yard, find an obstacle-free area, and hover over the yard at a “safe height”. Then the drone will lower the package, drop it on the ground and fly away.
Amazon has revealed a bit about the capabilities of its drones, something other similar services don’t talk about. The company claims that the drones are equipped with a “sophisticated detection and prevention system” to avoid obstacles. They can detect if something is moving or stationary and then change course if necessary.
Amazon worked with the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and regulators to make its drone delivery service possible. Looking at the photos provided, the company had to go through many different prototypes before creating one that stuck.
That said, Amazon’s brief description of the service leaves many basic questions unanswered.
For starters, what is considered a “safe height” to drop packages? What are Prime Air eligible items and are they fragile? What if someone doesn’t have a backyard? Are Prime Aire deliveries more expensive? Are they covered by the free shipping benefit for Amazon Prime customers?
June 15, 2022 Update:
After we published this story, Amazon got back to us with some answers.
For starters, the safe height is “a few feet above ground level”. The representative claims that Amazon carried out tests and made special packaging so that nothing is damaged. Drone delivery is free for Amazon Prime customers, and if you haven’t been a member for the last year, you can sign up for a free trial.
Eligible items include household products, beauty products, office supplies and everyday essentials: mostly things around the house. Drones fly autonomously, but they have someone supervising the flight. And if the customer doesn’t have a free landing pad, the drone won’t deliver to you. The Amazon rep said the company is working on different drone designs and delivery methods for people without a yard.
As for when drone delivery will expand outside of Lockeford, all the rep said was that Amazon is working on it.
Analysis: Difficult to feel confident
While it’s exciting to see this service finally – ahem – take off, the lack of detail and a spotty drone delivery history doesn’t inspire much confidence.
So far, Amazon has struggled with its drones. ONE April 2022 Bloomberg Report (opens in new tab) revealed that the team was dealing with technical issues and security issues. Amazon has also scaled back its international drone delivery program. According to a wired report of 2021 (opens in new tab)Amazon ended the Prime Air program in the UK after considerable internal turmoil.
About that, Walmart drone delivery service looks more promising. The company has teamed up with technology company DroneUp to offer a delivery program that could reach four million American homes in six states. It flies seven days a week for 12 hours. Fortunately, Amazon’s difficult history with drones becomes a bad memory and its delivery service takes off.
Thinking of getting into drones? has a list of the best beginner drones for 2022.