Amazon seeks FAA approval to test delivery drones outdoors
Amazon, which wants to deliver packages by drone, asked aviation regulators for permission to expand testing outside its research laboratory in Seattle.
The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Amazon is asking the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for permission to use drones as part of its plan to deliver packages to customers in 30 minutes or less.
The news sent shares of the nation’s largest e-commerce company up nearly 6 percent on Friday.
The online retailer created a media frenzy in December when it outlined a plan on CBS’ “60 Minutes” to deliver packages with self-guided aircrafts that seemed straight out of science fiction.
In a letter to the FAA dated Wednesday, Amazon said it is developing aerial vehicles as part of Amazon Prime Air. The aircraft can travel over 50 miles per hour and carry loads of up to 5 pounds. About 86 percent of Amazon’s deliveries are 5 pounds or less, the company said.
“We believe customers will love it, and we are committed to making Prime Air available to customers worldwide as soon as we are permitted to do so,” Amazon said in the letter.
Amazon said it has its team of “world-renowned roboticists, scientists, aeronautical engineers, remote sensing experts, and a former NASA astronaut” have created eighth- and ninth-generation versions of delivery drones.
Allowing the flights will benefit the public by advancing drone capabilities, the company said. It also plans to use one or more of the six test sites that the FAA has approved for unmanned flight and to seek a more formal “airworthiness certificate” for its aircraft, it said.
The FAA, which has banned most commercial drone operations until it crafts rules for them, at least initially doesn’t plan to allow the kind of automated flight paths envisioned by Amazon.
So far, Amazon has been able to test its aircraft only inside its lab or in other countries, it said.
The FAA did not respond to a request for comment.
Material from Bloomberg News is used in this report.