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The future of drone deliveries is in the suburbs

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Imagine it. Via an app you order a new mobile phone on Amazon or a burger at your favorite restaurant. Just 20 minutes later, you get a notification on your phone and head out to the backyard to watch a drone descend from the sky holding your package. Your package falls gently to the ground and the drone flies away. And it’s led by retail giants Amazon, Walmart, and a slew of food delivery companies.

I spoke with industry insiders to get the state of play and see an industry move from emerging to the mainstream, but before legal constraints.

Amazon Prime Air is And last but not least out of stealth mode after nearly a decade of prototyping more than 20 drones, with the company showing off its drones earlier this month.

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In June, Amazon announced plans to launch deliveries in Lockeford, Californiaand College Station, Texas. Residents choose items up to a total of 2.26 kg (4 lb) in weight. The items are packed in nearby warehouses and dropped in backyards.

In May, Walmart announced an expansion of the DroneUp delivery network to 34 locations by the end of the year, offering the potential to reach 4 million U.S. homes in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Texas, Utah and Virginia. This creates the capacity to deliver more than 1 million packages per drone in a year.

Customers can order items up to 4.5 kg (10 lb) for just $3.99 in delivery charges.

About 90% of Americans live within a 10-mile radius of one of Walmart’s more than 4,700 stores, meaning the capacity for future supply expansion is even greater.

And in Granbury, Texas, and three cities in North Carolina, drone operators Flytrex deliver restaurant meals. The company supplies orders up to three kilograms (6.6 lb), according to co-founder and CEO Yariv Bash:

For a dinner for a family that is just perfect. In the future we might build something bigger so we can deliver groceries too.

Earlier this month, the company received the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) approval to fly up to 3.2 nautical km (two miles), expanding the potential delivery radius to reach 100,000 eligible customers across all operational stations.

Rocking the suburbs

Flytrex drone delivery