Amazon ends California drone deliveries

Amazon confirmed it is ending Prime Air drone delivery operations in Lockeford, California. The Central California town of 3,500 was the company’s second U.S. drone delivery site, after College Station, Texas. Operations were announced in June 2022.

The retail giant is not offering details around the setback, only noting, “We’ll offer all current employees opportunities at other sites, and will continue to serve customers in Lockeford with other delivery methods. We want to thank the community for all their support and feedback over the past few years.”

College Station deliveries will continue, along with a forthcoming site in Tolleson, Arizona set to kick off deliveries later this year. Tolleson, a city of just over 7,000, is located in Maricopa County, in the western portion of the Phoenix metropolitan area.

Prime Air’s arrival brings same-day deliveries to Amazon customers in the region, courtesy of a hybrid fulfillment center/delivery station. The company says it will be contacting impacted customers when the service is up and running. There’s no specific information on timing beyond “this year,” owing, in part, to ongoing negotiations with both local officials and the FAA required to deploy in the airspace.

Expansion of the offering has been extremely slow going, in part due to regulatory matters. For much of the project’s life, it has seemed as if Amazon was simply dipping its toes in the unproven waters of drone delivery. It seems that Tolleson will be the service’s sole expansion this calendar year, with additional news held off until 2025. It remains to be seen whether the company will re-engage with California locales.

Amazon did reassert its commitment late last year, with the announcement of medication deliveries in College Station, bringing select Amazon Pharmacy orders to customers in less than an hour.

Select local governments clearly see these sorts of deals as an opportunity to advertise an openness to technological innovation outside of traditional hot spots like San Francisco or New York.

“This kind of delivery is the future, and it’s exciting that it will be starting in the Phoenix Metro Area,” Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego says. “The shift toward zero-emission package delivery will help us reduce local pollution and further cement our city as a hotbed for the innovative technology of tomorrow.”

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