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Amazon begins drone deliveries in California and Texas

Amazon has begun delivering orders by drone. Amazon Prime Air is now operating in Lockeford, Calif. and College Station, Texas, delivering a small number of packages just in time for Christmas. In August of this year, the retail giant received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to use drones for package deliveries. The maximum payload for Prime Air is 5 lb, and Amazon says that 85 percent of its shipments fall under that weight. Residents of both towns can sign up for the service,… ( More...

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dtmknsn 9
When drone delivery was first announced I figured someone somewhere will start shooting them down to get the packages.
srobak 2
You were right.
David Beattie 5
Hey, it worked great on the Jetsons!
Brian Hughes 4's the approval for "flying autonomously" that concerns me most (noted that currently flights are monitored). When we still don't see autonomous road vehicles as a generally accepted mode of transport, it surprised me that approval has been granted for autonomous flight of a commercial drone, considering the safety based VLOS requirements for other drone operations either commercial or recreational. I'm not wishing it, but I wonder how long it will be before there is an incident involving a crewed flight?
Torsten Hoff 2
In some ways implementing autonomous flight is much easier than autonomous ground vehicles. Ground vehicles have to account for other vehicles in their immediate vicinity, kids running into the street, limited sight distances, changing traffic lights and unexpected obstacles.

With aircraft, the time available to react to other traffic is generally much longer, and with services like ADS-B becoming much more common, becoming aware of other aircraft is much easier because they broadcast their position in real-time. You still have to account for the unexpected of course, such as birds and malfunctions.

And with respect to College Station, there are two well-developed airports nearby with considerable traffic. I'm curious what restrictions the FAA imposed on Amazon. Non-commercial drone operations are normally limited to below 400 feet AGL, and I would expect the same (or lower) limit for the delivery service just to help ensure vertical separation from the traffic at the two airports.
NX211 3
Torsten, you bring up some good points.

I'm a part 107 drone operator / 'pilot'. It has been my experience ( In the Phoenix metro area ) that police helicopters often fly at night, under 400 AGL and without 'squawking' I don't know if this is done in these Amazon delivery areas. I just hope someone at Amazon has also asked the question.

I wouldn't be very concerned about birds in the flight path. Birds are expert in 'See and avoid'. Though there are bird species that for one reason or another attack drones. Sea Gulls for example.

KCLL is Class D airspace and has ceiling limits ( for drones ) that range from 100-300 feet AGL.
Texas A&M flight test station is in Class G airspace ( uncontrolled ).

I'm curious how adaptive the drones software is. Will it adapt to a TFR, even a local one requested by local law enforcement.

If you are curious about the altitude restrictions for drones in your area you can use the B4UFLY app on the web here. or search b4ufly web map
James Simms 0
A lot of questions will be asked, fingers pointed, accusations, & CYA should (Heaven Forbid) if one of the Amazon drones brings down a charter carrying a collegiate sports team into College Station resulting in mass casualties.
Craig Good 1
Autonomous flight is a much, much easier problem than autonomous driving. Seems counterintuitive, I know.
JimPlez 4
Suddenly your camera drone will be welcome by your neighbors, at least until they learn to recognize the difference.
Bob Bransom 2
I hope they don’t deliver my Waterford Crystal by drone. It may not withstand the fall! 😀😀😜😜
Bandrunner 1
If one of them damages my guy ropes I shall regard retention of the drone as adequate compensation.
lynx318 1
"The drone will fly to the designated delivery location, descend to the customer's backyard, and hover at a safe height," Amazon said.
"Oh, new toy" Fur Coated Razorblades Doberman said,
Jesse Carroll 1
Will the Drone react to my 120# Ridgeback??
Jesse Carroll 1
For those who haven't goggled it, College Station is the Home of our Texas A&M Aggies! Sure bet they are on the hunt......when does Drone season open anyway?

Hookem Horns!
Craig Good 1
I had to look up Lockeford. Interesting choice.
linbb 1
Am waiting to see how well this really works out betting soon there will be problems with people and the drones. And then comes the delivery to the customer, then the porch pirates arrive.
Craig Good 2
The hazards of commenting without reading the article.
btweston -2
You are the lamest bot on the internet.
dodonfred 3
So this is the future - a bot commenting on story about drones...


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