Amazon has started delivering orders using drones. Amazon Prime Air is now operating in Lockeford, California, and College Station, Texas, delivering a small number of packages just in time for the New Year holidays, reports ArsTechnica.
In August of this year, the retail giant received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to use drones to deliver packages. The maximum payload for Prime Air is 2.2kg (5lbs), and Amazon says 85% of its shipments fall under that weight.
Residents of both cities can sign up for the service, and Amazon will then confirm that the company can safely deliver the package to the customer’s address. Once the order is placed, the customer will receive an estimated delivery time and tracking information.
“The drone will fly to the designated delivery location, descend to the customer’s backyard, and hover at a safe height,” Amazon said. “It will then safely release the package and rise back up to altitude.”
Lockeford is a small, rural town of about 3,500 residents located about 50 miles southeast of Sacramento and just northwest of Stockton, making it an ideal location to pilot drone delivery. College Station is roughly 100 miles northwest of Houston and is the home of Texas A&M University.
“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,” Natalie Banke, Amazon Air spokesperson told KTXL Fox 40 in Sacramento, which first reported the launch of Prime Air.
Amazon uses the MK27-2 delivery drone with six propellers and is currently focusing on safety first. While the drones fly autonomously, using algorithms to avoid obstacles such as power lines and chimneys, the company still monitors them with human operators.