Amazon.com is testing the viability of delivering drones for small packages.
Amazon has received federal approval to operate its fleet of Prime Air drones, a milestone that allows it to expand the supply of unmanned packages, the Federal Aviation Administration said Monday.
The approval will give Amazon broad privileges for “safe and efficient delivery of packages to customers,”
Amazon said it would use FAA certification to begin testing customer deliveries. The company said it had undergone rigorous training and provided detailed evidence that its drone delivery operations were safe, including demonstrating the technology to FAA inspectors.
“This certification is an important step forward for Prime Air and demonstrates FAA’s confidence in Amazon’s operational and safe procedures for an autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle delivery service that will one day deliver packages to our customers around the world,” said David Carbon, vice president. of Prime Air, said in a statement. “We will continue to develop and refine our technology to fully integrate drones for airspace delivery, and will work closely with the FAA and other regulators around the world to realize our vision of 30-minute delivery.”
Amazon added that although Prime Air’s fleet is not ready to expand large-scale package deliveries immediately, it is actively flying and testing the technology.
The company has relied on the delivery of unmanned aerial vehicles as part of its efforts to receive packages to Prime members faster. Amazon has also invested billions of dollars since last year to move from a two-day to a one-day delivery.
Amazon began testing drones for delivery in 2013, aiming to leave packages on the doorstep of customers for 30 minutes or less. In August 2019, the company submitted a petition for FAA approval of these plans. In its petition, Amazon said supplies would be made in low-density areas and packages would weigh £ 5 or less.
The company debuted a new, electric drone during its re: MARS conference in 2019, which can carry packages under £ 5 to customers within half an hour and can fly up to 15 miles. At the time, Jeff Wilk, Amazon’s chief executive for consumers, said the drone could be used by the company “within months” to deliver packages.
Amazon is not the only company looking to expand its commercial supply of drones. Last April, Alphabet-owned Wing became the first drone delivery company to receive FAA approval for commercial deliveries at UPS in the United States last October, receiving FAA approval to operate a fleet of drones as an airline.
Correction: The updated title that reflects the name of the drone service is Amazon Prime Air.