FAA Approves Expansion of Amazon Drone Delivery

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved Amazon to expand its drone delivery program, with the company planning to “immediately” scale up operations.

The agency requires commercial drone operators to maintain a line of sight to their drones until it approves technology that can safely allow drones to fly longer distances, beyond the visual line of sight.

Amazon announced that its new “detect-and-avoid system” was approved by the federal regulators on Thursday. 

“We’re excited to share that the FAA has given Prime Air additional permissions that allow us to operate our drones beyond visual line of sight, enabling us to now serve more customers via drone and effectively expand and scale our drone delivery operations,” company officials stated. 

“To obtain this permission, we developed a BVLOS [beyond visual line of sight] strategy, including an onboard detect-and-avoid technology. We’ve spent years developing, testing, and refining our onboard detect-and-avoid system to ensure our drones can detect and avoid obstacles in the air,” Amazon said.

One of Amazon’s lead drone sites is in College Station, Texas, where they provide customers with their orders in less than an hour with “minimal complexity,” according to David Carbon, vice president of Prime Air. 

In the company’s recent announcement, officials said, “We’ll immediately scale our operations in College Station with our current MK-27 drone to reach customers in more densely populated areas.”

A video posted to social media by College Station realtor Laura Cates shows a drone dropping a package off outside of a home — sending it crashing into the driveway from high in the air:

Amazon has set a goal to deliver 500 million packages per year by drone by the end of the decade.

“We knew we had to design a system capable of serving highly populated areas and that was safer than driving to the store,” the company said. “It’s taken years of inventing, testing, and improving to develop these breakthrough technologies, and now, on the heels of regulatory approval and cutting-edge technology, we’re excited to launch this next chapter for Prime Air.”

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