Amazon Prime customers in Lockeford, California will start receiving their orders with the help of drones later this year. That would make the small community one of the first locations to enjoy the free service within 30 minutes of making a purchase. The move follows other human-less transportation programs tested by companies like Walmart, the United Parcel Service, and FedEx. The e-commerce company started contacting residents earlier this month, asking them to opt into the new endeavor.
Speaking to CBS News, Amazon spokesperson Av Zammit explained how the Amazon drones system would work. Once a customer registers for the service, an Amazon employee will visit their home to make sure their yard has enough clear space to accept airborne deliveries. Although he didn’t offer too many details, Zammit said the free service is currently only available to Prime members and there will be “thousands of items” to choose from. However, the people of Lockeford are not too happy with the news.
According to The Byte, residents of the quiet ranch town were surprised to learn that their home would be used as a testing area for Amazon delivery drones. Some even said that they’ll shoot unwelcome delivery drones right out of the sky. “Target practice!” exclaimed one unnamed resident, who the publication says is the owner of an archery shop. Their surprise isn’t unexpected since the online retailer often embarks on new projects covertly, using code names and negotiating tax subsidies in secret.
As such, the big reveal sometimes comes as a shock to residents, triggering fights between the tech giant and the communities it aims to court. A few years ago, a Denver suburb, an island community on New York’s Canadian border, and a small town in Massachusetts rallied to stop an Amazon development after the news became public. And after a mysterious process to select New York City as one of its second headquarters sites, the company scrapped the plan due to major pushback, The Washington Post reports.
Now, the residents of the Northern California town have voiced several reasons for their opposition to the Amazon drones. Among them are serious employment concerns, while others referred to potential privacy infringements. And some folks simply cited a general mistrust of the tech giant. “I think they’re going to wreck everything for us,” resident Tim Blighton told the publication. He also shared a colorful story about how he previously threatened to shoot down a neighbor’s drone.
Another resident named Naydeene Koster expressed her concern about the Amazon drones scaring livestock to the point of self-harm. Speaking to reporters, she explained how she witnessed horses kill themselves over a flying balloon. Adding that she’d hate to see the damage a flying drone coming into the area would cause. While most feedback has been apprehensive, it’s worth noting that some people are curious to see drones in action.
Sadly, Amazon’s Prime Air drones have experienced several setbacks since their initial announcement in 2013. From delayed roll-outs and poor company morale to obscured crash numbers, and an acres-wide fire caused by a defunct drone. So while Amazon representatives say that the flying devices will meet the FAA’s high safety bar, they also warned that if someone did shoot down a drone they will have broken the law.