Amazon Pulls Out of Drone Delivery in California

Amazon Pulls Out of Drone Delivery in California

A drone delivering prescription drugs in College Station, Texas. (Amazon via AP)

Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

4/23/2024

Updated: 4/29/2024

Amazon is pulling out of its test drone delivery service in California and will instead provide the service in Arizona, the company announced April 22.
Amazon started flying deliveries via drones to shoppers in the city of Lockeford—about 40 miles south of Sacramento—in December 2022 as its first test site.
It later launched a second operation at College Station, Texas, where it plans to continue.
The company did not give a reason why it was leaving the Golden State, but low demand could have played a part.
Amazon aimed to make 10,000 drone deliveries by the end of last year, but told CNBC it had only delivered about 100 to the two small markets by mid-2023.
A local Lockeford resident told CNBC in May 2023 few locals had expressed interest.
“I would love to see the drones flying around. I can’t wait,” said Ken Thomas, co-owner of a deli that served lunch to some of Amazon’s local employees. “I haven’t seen any yet. One guy said they had 14 customers signed up, which seems kind of low to me.”
Amazon said the town of about 4,100 residents was not in its future plans.
“As we look to the future and prioritize our resources to continue growing the program, we’ve also made the decision to close our delivery site in Lockeford,” Amazon wrote in the announcement.
All employees will be offered opportunities at other sites and will continue to serve Lockeford customers with other delivery methods, the company said.
The company’s air delivery service, known as Amazon Prime Air, allows customers to order items weighing five pounds or less and have them delivered by a drone within 30 minutes.
The new operation in Tolleson, Arizona, will provide same-day deliveries in the West Valley Phoenix metropolitan area, according to the company.
It is also working with the Federal Aviation Administration and local Tolleson officials to get all necessary permissions to start deliveries. If approvals are received, the company said it plans to start drone deliveries later this year.
Tolleson Mayor Juan Rodriguez said the city was proud to have the drone service in the community.
“Amazon’s commitment to innovation exemplifies the entrepreneurial spirit that drives our city forward,” Mr. Rodriguez said in Amazon’s press release.
The company said it is also conducting flight tests for a new drone that will include safety features to allow it to deliver packages to customers with smaller backyards and in more densely populated suburban areas.
The new drone is quieter, can operate in light rain, and can fly twice as far as the current drones used by the company, according to Amazon.
A request for comment from Amazon was not returned on deadline.
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Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

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Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.

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