Aviation regulators gave Amazon the green light to begin testing its Prime Air drones in the United States — a decision that, together with a new federal approval process, could pave the way for other companies interested in drone delivery.
The Federal Aviation Administration told Amazon this week that it will be free to conduct research and development on drone technology, with certain restrictions. Amazon’s drones can’t fly higher than 400 feet or faster than 100 miles per hour. They’ll also have to remain within the drone operator’s direct line of sight, fly only during the day and operate over private property.
The two-year exemption lets Amazon push ahead with its plans to ship small packages by drone. The company hopes cutting the wait time between order and delivery will encourage consumers to buy more online.
Amazon isn’t the only company that has dreamed of delivering goods with unmanned aerial vehicles. From beer to pizza to tacos, drone delivery could be applied to many industries. That’s why Amazon’s exemption is so important, and why a new program from the FAA to streamline requests for exemptions could open the door to many drone delivery businesses.
Now that Amazon has received approval for research and development for drone delivery, others wishing to do the same might get expedited treatment under the summary grant process. But, FAA spokesman Les Dorr said, each application will be evaluated individually.
— Brian Fung