Amazon’s U.S. Drone Delivery Service Moves One Step Closer to Reality

Company remains stymied by federal line-of-sight restrictions, but remains committed to the idea of package delivery by drone.

Amazon Prime Air Drone
The goal of Amazon's Prime Air drone service is to deliver a five-pound package within 30 minutes or less of the customer’s order at airspeeds of up to 50 mph.Amazon

Amazon’s Prime Air delivery system moved ever nearer to reality in the United States last week when one of the company’s drones delivered a small box of sunscreen bottles to a pre-established meeting site at an Amazon-hosted conference in Palm Springs, California. Once the drone released its package on the ground, the vehicle disappeared back into the sky. Amazon said Prime Air’s goal is to deliver a five-pound package within 30 minutes or less of the customer’s order at airspeeds of up to 50 mph.

The company says progress for an official rollout of Prime Air to its 66 million customers continues, albeit at a slower pace than the company would like, mainly due to the current Part 107 restrictions limiting drone operations to line of sight. The company is also wrestling with privacy issues related to the drone’s path over non-Amazon customers. Amazon said it expects Prime Air to be operational before the end of this year, although the company did not specifically say first revenue flights would occur in the United States.

The California delivery moment was captured on video (below) at last week’s MARS conference, an event billed as an exclusive venue for fans of robotics, home automation, artificial intelligence, and space exploration.