Amazon gets FAA approval to test US Prime Air delivery drones

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Amazon has received Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval to operate its fleet of Prime Air drones in the US.

The company can now use unmanned aircraft systems to deliver goods ‘beyond the visual line of sight of the operator’ under a trial basis, CNBC reports.

Amazon began testing its delivery drones in 2013, but has stumbled getting the service off the ground due to hardware and safety issues.

The firm notes that it has since conducted a number of training deliveries and submitted evidence showing operations are safe to the public.

Drone deliveries will first rollout in low populated areas and will only drop-off packages weighing five pounds or less.

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Amazon has received Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval to operate its fleet of Prime Air drones in the US. The company can now use unmanned aircraft systems to deliver goods ‘beyond the visual line of sight of the operator’ under a trial basis

Amazon first unveiled its plans for Prime Air drones seven years ago, aiming to deliver goods in 30 minutes or less.

CEO Jeff Bezos had aimed to launch the service within the next four to five years, but the firm was hit with a number of hurdles, such as hardware limitations and safety regulations.

After a few years of testing and producing evidence that its drone delivery operations had evolved, Amazon submitted another request to the FAA in August 2019.

In the request, it state Prime Air would begin in lower populated areas and only deliver packages five pounds or below.

Amazon conducted a number of training deliveries and submitted evidence showing operations are safe to the public. Drone deliveries will first rollout in low populated areas and will only drop-off packages weighing five pounds or less. Pictured is a redesigned Prime Air drone unveiled in 2019 at Amazon’s Re:Mars conference

David Carbon, vice president of Prime Air, said in a statement: ‘This certification is an important step forward for Prime Air and indicates the FAA’s confidence in Amazon’s operating and safety procedures for an autonomous drone delivery service that will one day deliver packages to our customers around the world.’

‘We will continue to develop and refine our technology to fully integrate delivery drones into the airspace, and work closely with the FAA and other regulators around the world to realize our vision of 30 minute delivery.’

However, the firm notes that Prime Air is not yet capable of make deliveries at scale, but will continue to fly and test its technology.

Amazon has had quite the journey leading up to Monday’s announced of FAA approval.

The firm made its first delivery by drone back in 2016 when it dropped off an Amazon Fire TV box and a bag of popcorn to a customer in Cambridge, after receiving approval to conduct testing.

Amazon began testing its delivery drones in 2013, but has stumbled getting the service off the ground due to hardware and safety issues (pictured was the initial design for the drones)

Amazon began testing its delivery drones in 2013, but has stumbled getting the service off the ground due to hardware and safety issues (pictured was the initial design for the drones)

A year later, Amazon showed off the drone’s abilities in the US using a video of the aerial vehicle carrying a bottle of sunscreen to a resort in Palm Springs, California.

Once the package was removed, the drone then swiftly flew away.

Amazon, along with other companies, are making major waves in drone delivery, but according to Bloomberg, they are years off from becoming the norm.

The FAA is set to finalize regulations for such operations by the end of the year that will include a framework for drones soaring above crowds.

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