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Amazon's drone delivery service is set to finally take to the skies this year

Amazon Prime Air's latest drone design
(Image credit: Amazon)

What you need to know

  • Amazon has announced that it will begin testing drone deliveries this year.
  • The Prime Air pilot will take place in Lockeford, California, where users will provide feedback on the delivery system.
  • Amazon has also shown off its latest drone design, which includes a sophisticated sense-and-avoid system.

It seems like forever ago that Amazon announced that it would make drone deliveries a thing. Since 2013, we've been waiting to see just when the drone revolution would begin, and it seems like Amazon is finally ready to start making it happen.

The company announced Monday that it would start testing its Prime Air drone delivery service in Lockeford, California, a small community estimated to have more than 3,500 residents. It would be among the first to try out the new delivery system, providing Amazon with valuable feedback to help bring the system to scale as the company sets its sights on larger towns.

The goal with Prime Air is to deliver products to homes in under one hour. Amazon boasts its sense-and-avoid system that helps its drones avoid collisions in the air and safely navigate when approaching the ground. Drones will deliver items up to 5lbs to a customer's backyard, ensuring no people or animals are in the way when dropping off the item.

Amazon says it's working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Lockeford officials to get the pilot off the ground (pun very much intended). The company also shows off its latest hexagonal delivery drone.

Amazon Prime Air delivery drone

(Image credit: Amazon)

The program has been a long-time coming since it was first announced nearly a decade ago, with the company reportedly investing billions of dollars into its development. Amazon has undergone several different drone designs and has had some setbacks, with reports of crashes and falling short of planned test flights. Yet, despite these shortcomings, the company seems confident enough to begin testing in populated communities.

Amazon notes that it is one of three drone-delivery companies to receive FAA air carrier certification. Google parent company, Alphabet, offers its Wing drone delivery service in Australia, Finland, and select U.S. cities. Walmart also has its own drone service expanding quickly across the U.S. 

Amazon did not elaborate on when the Lockeford testing would begin beyond "later this year," likely following FAA clearance.

Derrek is a long-time Nokia and LG fanboy who loves astronomy, videography, and sci-fi movies. When he's not working, he's most likely working out or smoldering at the camera.