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Amazon Shuts Down California Drone Delivery

ByHuey Yee Ong

Apr 23, 2024
Amazon Shuts Down California Drone Delivery

Amazon Shuts Down California Drone Delivery

Amazon has announced the discontinuation of its Prime Air drone delivery service in Lockeford, California, one of its early U.S. testing grounds for drone delivery.

Meanwhile, Amazon is preparing to open a new operation in Tolleson, Arizona, which is expected to begin operations later this year. The forthcoming site in Tolleson aims to provide same-day deliveries to residents in the West Valley Phoenix metro area.

Amazon’s Continued Operations and New Developments

The Prime Air program in Lockeford, which began in 2022, allowed residents to receive products weighing up to five pounds via drone within 30 minutes. Despite this innovative offering, Amazon’s press release does not disclose specific reasons for the site’s closure but mentions that employees affected by the shutdown will be offered opportunities at other Amazon locations.

In addition to winding down operations in Lockeford, Amazon continues to operate its drone delivery service in College Station, Texas. The company also has plans to further expand by opening additional Prime Air locations in 2025.

Amazon’s latest drone model, the MK30, which can fly in light rain and is less heavy than its predecessors, is still under testing and was revealed in November 2022. This follows reports of earlier models facing difficulties, including instances where they crashed during tests.

Expansion Plans in Tolleson, Arizona

The new Prime Air location in Tolleson, a city within the Phoenix metropolitan area with over 7,000 residents, represents a strategic move by Amazon to continue exploring drone delivery in different markets. The service in Tolleson will be facilitated by a hybrid fulfillment center/delivery station, with the company planning to notify impacted customers once the service becomes operational.

This shift comes as Amazon continues to engage with regulatory processes, working closely with local officials and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to secure the necessary approvals for operating drones in the designated airspace.

Moreover, Amazon has recently emphasized its commitment to leveraging drone technology for broader applications, including medication deliveries through Amazon Pharmacy in College Station, delivering orders in less than an hour.

Amazon had set ambitious goals for its drone delivery service, projecting 10,000 deliveries by the end of 2023. However, by mid-2023, the company had only achieved 100 deliveries, significantly trailing behind its initial targets. This contrasts sharply with competitors like Zipline, who have reportedly completed over a million deliveries as of April 19, 2023.

Local officials in Phoenix, including Mayor Kate Gallego, have expressed support for the new Prime Air service, viewing it as an innovative step forward in package delivery that aligns with environmental goals and positions the city as a leader in adopting new technologies.

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Featured Image courtesy of Amazon

Huey Yee Ong

Hello, from one tech geek to another. Not your beloved TechCrunch writer, but a writer with an avid interest in the fast-paced tech scenes and all the latest tech mojo. I bring with me a unique take towards tech with a honed applied psychology perspective to make tech news digestible. In other words, I deliver tech news that is easy to read.

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