Delivery of Amazon drone almost ready for prime time after Oregon crashes in rearview mirror

Amazon released news this month announcing the start of aerial drone package delivery to real customers in northern California. To prepare for its debut in the United States, the company conducted extensive flight tests in eastern Oregon, where it experienced numerous crashes. Amazon said on Monday that future developments in commercial drone distribution mean that sophisticated technology is safe and no longer experimental.

Seattle-based e-commerce giant announced on its blog that the first US customer to order small items for quick drone delivery will be in Lockeford, California.

Rockford is an unincorporated town on the northern tip of the Central Valley with a population of approximately 3,500. California State Legislature Heath Flora, who represents the region of the Legislature, said it was natural to ask, “Why Rockford?” He attended a preliminary briefing provided by Amazon to local officials.

“I think there were several factors: it was that the FAA liked the place,” Flora said as an explanation. “It was very close to Amazon’s main hub (Stockton). It’s perfect for having a relatively rural, relatively open, unobstructed community like Lockeford. It seemed like. “

Flora added that she was excited to secure a front row seat for the potential for fundamental changes in “how the product works.”

Amazon promises to start flying drones over people’s homes less than a year after some of their homes have fallen from the sky. An unmanned Amazon aircraft crashed during a nearly monthly flight test from May 2021 to February this year, according to documents obtained by the Northwest News Network and OPB through a record request to the Federal Aviation Administration. An Amazon spokesman said in an email that the crash wasn’t related to the latest version used in California, but to the now retired drone model.

Amazon’s package delivery drone weighs about the same as a power lawn mower, about 85 pounds according to FAA-registered specifications. Autonomous flying machines have six electric motors and hexagonal wings that surround the propellers. According to Amazon, drones can deliver items under shoeboxes that weigh up to £ 5.

The Northwest News Network and OPB have requested an FAA incident report on all unmanned aerial vehicle accidents in the Pendleton test range since 2018. We identified 10 crashes that were serious enough to report to the federal government, almost all of which were related to Amazon’s parcel delivery drones.

During April Bloomberg reported on some of the drone crashes in Pendleton.. Current and former employees told reporters that Amazon prioritized speed over safety during the development process.

Enhanced scrutiny has not slowed down business in the Pendleton UAS range. Drone Range Manager Darryl Abling said he expects flights with a range of 15,000 to 17,000 in 2022. This is more than double the total for 2021.

Abling does not specifically discuss Amazon or any other range of users. But he said the number of reported crashes was low compared to the number of test flights hosted by Pendleton.

“It’s a drop of the sea,” he said. “With so many operations, even if the threshold of one-tenth percent is reached, a significant number of incidents must occur. That number is very small.”

Amazon spokesman AvZammit reiterated in an email Monday that safety is his company’s top priority and that the drone is equipped with multiple safety features.

“We use closed private facilities to test our systems to the limit and beyond,” says Zamit. “With such rigorous testing, we anticipate this type of event and will apply learning from each flight to improve safety.”

Safety, flight time and noise are in the hearts of the Rockford people. They are still learning that they are at the cutting edge, in some cases. This is due to Chuck Win, chairman of the San Joaquin County Supervisory Board, who observed the city’s advisory board meeting where the drone plan was first published. To summarize the mood of the audience, Win said that if the FAA sets limits to maximize safety and minimize interference, locals can accept drone deliveries.

“I think they’ll be very worried about when, where, and certainly height, etc. these drones will fly,” he said.

“I have a clear question,” Win continued. “But there was no turmoil or anger about this particular project.”

In this case, the county is solely responsible for building remodeling and land use at distribution warehouse sites, said Stephanie Lauder, a spokeswoman for San Joaquin County. The FAA retains sole authority over flight operations and has informed the county that various federal government approvals and specific airspace approvals are required before starting operations on delivery drones.

Amazon hasn’t given the city of California a timeline for the actual start of one-hour drone delivery in the United States, other than saying it’s coming “late this year.” Amazon Prime Air is not the first to hit the market. Competitors such as Wal-Mart, Google Wing and UPS are already in the air, and testing of drone delivery in Sunbelt is limited.

After Rockford, Texas’ similarly flat, low-density College Station will be the next place to see Amazon drones flying nearby, judging by the advanced permitting process underway there. There is a possibility.

During recent plans and zoning committee discussions at College Station, Amazon officials were able to avoid other flying objects and ensure that the backyard drop-off zone was clear. I explained about the sensor package.

Amazon said the delivery drone would fly only during the day and move between locations at altitudes of about 400 feet. At both Rockford and College Station, Amazon told local authorities that battery-powered aircraft would operate within a four-mile radius of the base station.

Leave a Comment