Amazon prepares delivery by drone

Amazon plans to launch its Prime Air drone delivery service in California later this year, a mode of transportation that startups and large corporations like Walmart have been working on for years.

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The e-commerce giant wants to complete practical tests in the Californian city of Lockerford, the group said in a statement on Monday.

“Later this year (…) residents will be able to sign up for drone delivery for free,” Amazon says, without giving further details on the date. The company is still waiting for the green light from the authorities.

Consumers can choose “among thousands of everyday products” to be dropped from the drone in their garden.

Their feedback should be used to improve the service, which Amazon hopes to scale to “meet the needs of customers everywhere.”

The group says they created a dozen prototypes before arriving at a model that can identify and avoid both static and moving obstacles from smokestacks to other aircraft and pets.

“Most drones don’t have that ability…and need spotters to help them avoid risks. They can be deployed fairly quickly, but remain limited to a small radius of action.

Prime Air hasn’t specified how much weight the drones can carry or how far they can travel.

In late May, American retail giant Walmart announced the expansion of its drone delivery service, which should be available in 34 locations across the United States by the end of the year.

The drones will be deployed in six American states (Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Texas, Utah and Virginia) with the ability to reach up to 4 million homes and ensure more than a million deliveries a year, the company said.

Walmart customers can order their goods between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. and receive them airmailed within half an hour for a delivery fee of $3.99 per order.

Each delivery may weigh up to 4.5 kg.

Walmart, which wants to position itself as a leader in this service, will use devices and technologies from the startup DroneUp.

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