U.S. federal regulators have finally authorized Amazon.com Inc. to perform outdoor tests for their new delivery drones.
In spite of public concerns about safety and breeching privacy, Amazon is determined to take e-commerce to the next level by pursuing its new goal of delivering customers’ orders by air.
On Thursday, the Federal Aviation Administration announced that Amazon is now allowed to experiment with the airworthiness of their endeavor by trying out the flight capacities of their prototype drone over a private rural land in the state of Washington.
In order for the experimental drone to be able to fly, the FAA also had to offer Amazon an exemption from various flight restrictions. This authorization is big move for Seattle-based Amazon, which is currently the largest e-commerce company operating in the United States.
The company’s latest plans of delivering packages via miniature self-piloted aircraft are finally catching wings. However, the win comes with certain limitations. The current authorization is only valid for a particular drone, and if Amazon decides that it needs improvement or specific modifications, it must apply for a new certificate.
This policy might slow down the process significantly, because any quick adaptations of the model are now more difficult to enact. Amazon has specified in its petition for flight permission that they were already testing various models of the drone in an indoor facility down in Seattle.
The FAA’s authorization requires Amazon testers to keep the flights below 400 feet (120 meters) and always in sight. The company has already applied for permission to raise the altitudes up to 500 feet (150 meters.)
According to the FAA, all drone operators should own private pilot licenses and up-to-date medical certification; regulators have also requested monthly data about their progress.
Jeff Bezos is the company’s chief executive and the dubbed “Prime Air” is his baby project. His goal is to upgrade the delivery system by developing drones that can reach 50 miles per hour (80 kph) in flight mode. These drones will be able to operate autonomously and have a built-in sensor that allows them to avoid objects.
NASA is also involved in Amazon’s program, helping them with developing an air-traffic management system for drones. Prior to seeking FAA permission for testing their drones in outdoors areas, the Seattle-based company had performed test flights outside the United States border, taking advantage of looser restrictions in various countries.
It’ll be at least a year before the FAA’s proposed rules for U.S. guidelines for drones become final, as they have to undergo public comment regarding unmanned aerial vehicles. Both corporations and individual institutions are becoming more and more interested in these devices.
Image Source: YouTube