Your Amazon orders of the near future could be landing at your doorstep from the skies.
This isn’t science fiction, but a very real possibility made more possible after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an experimental airworthiness certificate to an Amazon Logistics, Inc. unmanned aircraft (UAS) design.
Amazon intends to use this for research and development, and crew training.
The proposed directive is for drones to fly at 400 feet or below during daylight hours, and to always stay within sight of the pilot. Flying drones for commercial purposes is currently illegal under U.S. law, but those rules are now under revision by the FAA, which looks like it is considering issuing a new set concerning the operation of unmanned aircraft for commercial and recreational purposes.
Amazon has been banging this drum for a while now, with initial requests of the regulator made for tests last July. The U.S. also risked losing pace with other countries, as Amazon said it might begin testing elsewhere, in other countries.
Apparently rejecting the superior Amazon drone service name of “Tarzan,” instead “Amazon Prime Air” was selected.
Back in July 2014 Paul Misener, Amazon vice president of global public policy, wrote a letter to the FAA.
“Without approval of our testing in the United States, we will be forced to continue expanding our Prime Air R&D footprint abroad.”
The new ruling dictates that Amazon must provide monthly data about the number of flights conducted and any other relevant information.
As far back as December 2013 Amazon announced that a trial drone delivery service would begin. Progress up until now had been challenging, although last November it began advertising for drone-related job roles. Flight operations engineers will take control of test driving Prime Air drones, while there was also a call for flight safety managers.
The company isn’t without competition in the drone delivery space. Google, parcel service UPS, and China’s internet giant Alibaba have all carried out private trials of drone delivery. Last month Alibaba said its trial will last three days, limited to one-hour flights from distribution centres in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
Now Amazon has been given permission to take its own testing to the next level in the U.S., with new certification from the FAA putting Amazon drone deliveries firmly back on the map for potential roll-out across the country.