A small number of Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) customers in Lockeford, California, and College Station, Texas recently had packages delivered to their backyards by drone. Lockeford is a small, rural town of about 3,500 residents located about 50 miles southeast of Sacramento and just northwest of Stockton. College Station is roughly 100 miles northwest of Houston and is the home of Texas A&M University.
The drone initiative has been in development at Amazon for many years. The company first disclosed its plan to use drone delivery in 2013. They reached major milestone in 2020 when they received an air carrier certificate from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration authorizing them to use delivery drones.
The Amazon delivery drones, called the MK27-2, have six propellers and fly at a maximum altitude of 400 feet at a speed of about 50 mph. An internal navigation system keeps them on course while avoiding obstacles. When they get to the destination, they descend to a height of 12 feet and drop the package. These drones were developed internally. They can carry packages that weigh less than five pounds, but the company says those small packages make up about 85% of its orders. Users who place orders via Amazon Air will gain access to a webpage that displays the estimated package arrival time as well as an order status tracker. Amazon says it expects to deliver orders made through Prime Air in under one hour.