FAA approves Amazon's drone delivery

FAA grants Amazon permission to fly drones beyond visual range for package delivery, expanding service areas.

FAA approves Amazon's drone delivery
Amazon's drone delivery

Amazon last month announced that the FAA granted them permission to operate drones beyond visual line of sight. This allows Amazon to expand their Prime Air drone delivery service to more customers.

To secure this approval, Amazon developed a BVLOS strategy including an onboard detect-and-avoid system. This system uses sensors and software to identify and avoid obstacles in the air, ensuring safe drone operation. Amazon provided the FAA with detailed information about the system's design, operation, maintenance, and validation process. Additionally, they conducted flight demonstrations with the FAA observing, showcasing safe navigation around airplanes, helicopters, and even a hot air balloon.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulates commercial drone use in the United States. One key regulation is maintaining a line of sight (LOS) between the pilot and the drone. This ensures the pilot can directly observe the drone and react to potential hazards. However, for wider-scale drone delivery, flying beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) is necessary.

This FAA approval allows Amazon to

  • Expand its drone delivery area in College Station, Texas, reaching more customers.
  • Integrate drone delivery into its wider delivery network, potentially offering faster delivery times for a broader selection of items.
  • Scale its drone operations using its current MK-27 drone model in more populated areas.

Amazon's goal is to achieve safe and scalable drone delivery for packages within 30 minutes, delivering 500 million packages annually by the end of the decade. This FAA approval brings them closer to achieving this goal.

Amazon emphasizes that safety remains their top priority. The newly approved BVLOS technology allows them to expand their delivery capabilities while maintaining their commitment to safety standards.

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