Delivery via Drone? LA Mayor Wants to Make it Happen by 2023

Ben Bergman

Ben Bergman is the newsroom's senior finance reporter. Previously he was a senior business reporter and host at KPCC, a senior producer at Gimlet Media, a producer at NPR's Morning Edition, and produced two investigative documentaries for KCET. He has been a frequent on-air contributor to business coverage on NPR and Marketplace and has written for The New York Times and Columbia Journalism Review. Ben was a 2017-2018 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economic and Business Journalism at Columbia Business School. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, playing poker, and cheering on The Seattle Seahawks.

Delivery via Drone? LA Mayor Wants to Make it Happen by 2023
Photo by ShareGrid on Unsplash

Los Angeles residents could be receiving their Postmates order or prescription drugs from CVS via drone as soon as 2023, under a new initiative introduced Wednesday by the city's Mayor Eric Garcetti.

"Los Angeles is where we turn today's ideas into tomorrow's reality — a place where a barrier-breaking concept like urban air mobility can truly get off the ground," Garcetti said in a statement. "The Urban Air Mobility Partnership will make our city a force for cleaner skies, safer transportation, expanded prosperity, and stunning innovation and provide a template for how other local governments can take this new technology to even greater heights."


The one-year partnership is funded by Hyundai Urban Air Mobility, Urban Movement Labs and Estolano Advisors. The aim is to come up with policies to regulate delivery drones and start to plan for a "vertiport" to access urban air mobility aircraft.

The initiative is hiring an "Urban Air Mobility Fellow" who will be tasked with devising a public engagement strategy around urban air mobility.

"I'm really excited about the potential there," said Lilly Shoup, Interim Executive Director of Urban Movement Labs, a public-private nonprofit partnership launched by Garcetti last year that is trying to turbocharge transportation innovation across the city.

Urban Movement Labs is also sponsoring a testing center at Warner Center where Kiwibot, a San Jose startup, is testing the use of robots to deliver goods on city sidewalks. After a successful rollout at the University of California, Berkeley, the company is preparing to make a much bigger push in L.A. next year.

"L.A. is going to be our most important city next year," said Kiwibot CEO and founder Felipe Chavez.

Robots on the ground are much closer than drones to becoming a viable option for Angelenos, but Amazon and others have been working for years on ways to deliver goods via air.

Earlier this year, the Federal Aviation Administration designated Amazon Prime Air an "air carrier," which allows the company to begin testing commercial deliveries in the U.S.

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