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Amazon halts drone deliveries in California, but kicks off tests in Phoenix

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Amazon customers in California won’t be able to get drone deliveries anymore. The e-commerce company has closed its delivery site in Lockeford, which has been operational since 2022, and will now offer its personnel in the area opportunities at other sites. Amazon made the revelation almost as an aside in an announcement that it’s launching drone deliveries in the West Valley Phoenix Metro area later this year. Its drones will be deployed from facilities near its Tolleson fulfillment center. Amazon says it’s the first time drone deliveries will be fully integrated into its network, and it will allow the company to fulfill and deliver purchases more quickly.

The company doesn’t have an exact launch date for its drone deliveries in Phoenix, because it’s still working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and local officials to get the permits it needs. It does have the support of Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, though, who called drone deliveries “the future” and said it would help her city “reduce local pollution” and further cement it “as a hotbed for the innovative technology of tomorrow.”

While Amazon’s drone delivery operations are shutting down in California, it’ll continue its activities in College Station, Texas. Shortly after it started using drones as couriers in those two areas, The Information reported that the company has made just a handful of deliveries via the method, mostly due to FAA limitations that prohibit the machines from flying over roads or people unless Amazon gets permission for every case. It eventually reached 100 drone deliveries by the middle of 2023, though that was likely far from what the company had hoped to get by then, since it aimed to reach 10,000 deliveries by the end of the year.

Those setbacks, however, don’t seem to have deterred Amazon. It’s currently testing its next-gen MK30 drones that can fly twice as far as its current drones, and it also said that it’s deploying drone deliveries in more locations in the US next year.

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