Developing Prime Air
Amazon has been working for almost a decade to make drone deliveries a reality, it said. The retailer noted it has created a “sense-and-avoid system” that will enable operations without visual observers and allow its drone to operate at greater distances, while avoiding other aircraft, people, pets, and obstacles.
Amazon developed the sense-and-avoid system to be safe both in transit and when approaching the ground.
“When flying to the delivery location, the drones need to be able to identify static and moving obstacles,” the retailer said. “Our algorithms use a diverse suite of technologies for object detection. Using this system, our drone can identify a static object in its path, like a chimney. It can also detect moving objects on the horizon, like other aircraft, even when it’s hard for people to see them. If obstacles are identified, our drone will automatically change course to safely avoid them. As our drone descends to deliver the package into a customer’s backyard, the drone ensures that there’s a small area around the delivery location that’s clear of any people, animals, or other obstacles.”
“The Prime Air drones are autonomous,” explained Amazon senior software engineer Heidi Schubert. “To fly safely, they need some ground station support. What we do is essentially build a map of the area and use it to plan a detailed route that helps the drone get to its destination safely.”
Amazon said, as it tests the service in Lockeford, it will be investing in the community, creating new jobs, building partnerships with local organizations, and helping reduce carbon emissions.
"Lockeford residents will soon have access to one of the world's leading delivery innovations,” said California State Assemblyman Heath Flora, whose district includes Lockeford. "It's exciting that Amazon will be listening to the feedback of the San Joaquin County community to inform the future development of this technology."