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posted by janrinok on Tuesday June 21, @10:43AM   Printer-friendly
from the monotone-of-the-evening's-drone dept.

Amazon Will Pilot Drone Delivery in California This Year:

All sorts of wacky solutions have been proposed for better package delivery, from an underground "hyperloop" network of pipes to swarms of last-mile robots dispatched from mothership vans.

Let's not forget ever-elusive delivery drones. The widespread assumption was that Amazon would be the first to have its packages take to the skies, but as it turned out, Walmart beat them to the punch, piloting drone delivery in North Carolina in 2020.

Now Amazon's catching up. The company announced this week that it's starting drone delivery service in Lockeford, California later this year. South-east of Sacramento in the state's hot, dry Central Valley area, the town had a population of just 3,521 as of the 2020 census. An Amazon press release says the town has "historic links" to the aviation industry thanks to a former resident who built and flew planes there in the early 1900s.

The company doesn't give additional details around why it chose Lockeford for the Prime Air pilot, though the town's rural location, the fact that most customers there have backyards for the drones to drop packages in, and the lack of numerous obstacles you'd find in a more urban or densely-populated area likely all factored in.

[...] On the safety front, among other measures, Amazon has built what it calls an "industry-leading sense-and-avoid system" to keep its drones from crashing into things—things like other aircraft, people, pets, or unexpected obstacles (like, say, a chimney or an antenna). When a drone's sensors detect objects within a certain radius of it, it automatically changes course, and as it descends to drop packages, it checks that the surrounding space is clear.

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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Phoenix666 on Tuesday June 21, @01:22PM

    by Phoenix666 (552) on Tuesday June 21, @01:22PM (#1254883) Journal

    So will it be like a drone-van comes to your hood and then they unleash the drone swarm, they return to the van and then they drive to the next hood?

    I think this will be the case, like a Protoss carrier launching drones. The business case is hard to make, though, unless using drones will mean fewer human drivers can make more deliveries, quicker. If it means the many drones cost Amazon more per delivery because of greater amounts of energy consumed, then it won't last.

    Now, if you had a low-altitude cargo airship that was literally like a Protoss carrier that deployed drones, then you could have one human pilot run deliveries for an entire region and never get stuck in traffic. You'd probably have to have a cargo altitude set up with the FAA or something (if it doesn't already exist--I'm no pilot and have no idea), but it could work very well.

    As a side note I would personally appreciate cargo traffic being moved to airships w/ drones because it would dramatically free up space on the roads for civilian traffic.

    Washington DC delenda est.
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