Amazon receives FAA approval that will allow it to expand drone deliveries for online orders

Federal regulators have given Amazon important approval that will allow it to expand its drone delivery program, the company announced Thursday.

In a blog post on its website, Seattle-based Amazon said the Federal Aviation Administration has given its Prime Air delivery service permission to operate drones “beyond visual line of sight,” removing a barrier that prevents its drones from traveling longer. distances. With the approval, Amazon pilots can now fly drones remotely without seeing it with their own eyes.

Amazon, which has been seeking the permission for years, said it received approval from regulators after developing a strategy that ensures its drones can “detect and avoid obstacles in the sky.”

In addition, the company said it provided other technical information to the FAA and conducted flight demonstrations for federal inspectors. Those demonstrations were also done “in the presence of real aircraft, helicopters and a hot air balloon to demonstrate how the drone safely navigated away from each of them,” Amazon said.

The FAA's approval marks an important step for the company, which has had ambitions to deliver online orders via drones for more than a decade. During a 2013 TV interview, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said drones would be flying to customers' homes within five years. However, the company's progress was slowed due to regulatory setbacks.

In 2022, Amazon began making a limited number of drone deliveries to customers in College Station, Texas and Lockeford, California. Last month it said it would close its drone delivery location in Lockeford and open a new one late this year in Tolleson, Arizona, a city west of Phoenix.

Companies wanted simpler rules that could open neighborhood airspace to new commercial drone uses, but privacy advocates and some airplane and balloon pilots remain wary.

With the new authorization, Amazon says it will “immediately” scale up its operations in College Station in an effort to reach customers in more densely populated areas. By the end of this decade, the company wants to deliver 500 million packages per year by drone.

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