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

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

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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Sam Blake

Sam primarily covers entertainment and media for dot.LA. Previously he was Marjorie Deane Fellow at The Economist, where he wrote for the business and finance sections of the print edition. He has also worked at the XPRIZE Foundation, U.S. Government Accountability Office, KCRW, and MLB Advanced Media (now Disney Streaming Services). He holds an MBA from UCLA Anderson, an MPP from UCLA Luskin and a BA in History from University of Michigan. Email him at samblake@dot.LA and find him on Twitter @hisamblake

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Minnie Ingersoll is a partner at TenOneTen and host of the LA Venture podcast. Prior to TenOneTen, Minnie was the COO and co-founder of $100M+, an online marketplace for used cars. Minnie started her career as an early product manager at Google. Minnie studied Computer Science at Stanford and has an MBA from HBS. She recently moved back to L.A. after 20+ years in the Bay Area and is excited to be a part of the growing tech ecosystem of Southern California. In her space time, Minnie surfs baby waves and raises baby people.