Amazon receives FAA approval to trial fleet of Prime Air delivery drones in U.S.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a certificate to Amazon approving its fleet of Prime Air drones to make trial deliveries, reports the nytimes.com. This clears the way for the company to fly their unmanned craft with packages attached to customers’ doorsteps over low populated areas.

This clearance brings the retailer an important step closer to its goal of shortening delivery times to 30 minutes or less. Amazon is only the third company to receive a Part 135 air carrier certificate, after Wing Aviation, which is owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet, and UPS Flight Forward. Neither company has implemented drone delivery widely as of yet.

Amazon did not say when customers could expect drones to drop packages at their doorsteps. Obtaining the FAA certificate was an “important step,” the company said, adding that it would continue to test the technology, which has been in development for seven or more years.

David Carbon, the vice president of Prime Air, said in a statement that the certification “indicates the F.A.A.’s confidence in Amazon’s operating and safety procedures for an autonomous drone delivery service that will one day deliver around the world.”

He added that the company would “continue to develop and refine our technology to fully integrate delivery drones into the airspace, and work closely with the F.A.A. and other regulators around the world to realise our vision of 30-minute delivery.”

Amazon said it was required to submit evidence of the safety of its operations, and to demonstrate those operations for the FAA.

At a conference in Las Vegas last year, Amazon revealed a fully electric hexagonal drone that could carry up to five pounds in weight. The drone had advanced spatial awareness technology that allowed it to avoid contact with other objects, the company said. Amazon already offers one-day delivery in many places, but shortening delivery times has long been a goal of the company’s CEO, Jeff Bezos.

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 (News Source: https://www.nytimes.com)