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Residents in San Mateo and Contra Costa counties may soon have the option of having some packages delivered via drone.
Dive Delivery, a San Bruno-based company, said it plans to launch a trial service for residents in the two counties in which a drone could deliver small, lightweight packages of essential goods like face masks directly to a person’s backyard.
The company said it would first send an empty-handed drone on a test flight to a resident’s house when they sign up for the trial. Once the test flight is completed, the package would then be affixed to the drone and delivered to the person’s backyard.
Dive did not respond to a request for comment about whether people who don’t have backyards or who live in apartment complexes could receive packages via drone delivery.
The delivery system also notifies customers before and after packages are delivered to ensure they are not standing under the drone, according to Dive, a subsidiary of the drone services and consulting company Airzus.
Delivery planning and execution will be handled by the drone flight operations management company Avision and its mobile app.
Multiple companies, including Google and UPS, have floated the idea of using drones to deliver packages for several years.
In 2015, Amazon showed off a prototype of a Prime Air drone, which would deliver packages weighing less than 5 pounds in under half an hour.
Prime Air drones were expected to begin delivering packages last year, but the delivery method has yet to become available.
The ride-booking service Uber has also toyed with the use of drones to deliver food ordered on its Uber Eats service. The company began testing drone delivery of meals for two last year in San Diego.
Locally, the city of Concord has approved multiple permits for delivery robots in recent years. Starship Technologies has provided drone delivery services for DoorDash and Postmates while Marble Robotics’ courier robots have delivered things like groceries and takeout food in downtown Concord.
According to Dive, Avision’s app handles airspace authorization requests with the Federal Aviation Administration. Dive did not respond to a question about how much contact the company has had with local officials in San Mateo and Contra Costa counties.
However, a Contra Costa County spokesman said as long as the drones are launched from a private area and don’t touch the ground, it is likely that they are not technically under the operating purview of either county, and would not require Dive to get permission to operate.
The FAA has also made it easier for drone delivery services to operate during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
“The FAA is enabling drone use for COVID-19 response efforts within our existing regulations and emergency procedures,” the agency said in a statement. “Our small unmanned aircraft rule (Part 107) and Certificate of Authorization process allow operators to transport goods and certain medical supplies — including test kits, most prescription drugs and, under certain circumstances, blood — provided the flight complies with all provisions of the rule or authorization.”
Residents in both counties can visit Dive’s website at divedelivery.com to sign up for the delivery service trial.