In a terrifying development, Amazon’s commercial delivery drones have been approved for testing by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). It is unclear when they will begin testing, but the approval is a major step forward in the development process.
David Carbon, Amazon vice president of Prime Air, said:
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.
This designation makes Amazon one of the few U.S. companies approved as a drone airline – alongside UPS and Wing, an Alphabet subsidiary.
How does the FAA regulate drones?
With no drone-specific regulations developed yet by the FAA, the company had to go through an adapted approval process. The FAA plans to finalize drone-specific regulations by the end of the year.
Last year, Amazon introduced the MK27 – the drone that they are developing for delivery purposes. In Amazon’s ideal scenario, the drones would make deliveries within 7.5 miles of a warehouse, arrive at customers’ homes in 30 minutes, and carry packages up to 5 lbs.
Will we see drones in our neighborhoods soon?
Though Amazon has developed drones that can carry weight and fly relatively far, it will (thankfully) still be a few years before drone deliveries can be normalized. Other major hurdles include developing preprogrammed routes for drones to operate efficiently without constant human piloting, creating a low-altitude monitoring system (a responsibility of the FAA), and the establishment of noise regulation/monitoring for the drones.