The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is clearing the way for the ambitious air-delivery business of retail giant Amazon, its drone-based delivery service known as Amazon Prime Air, to use unmanned aerial systems (UAS) for the rapid delivery of commercial goods. The FAA is supporting this use of autonomous UAS to deliver packages safely and efficiently during all weather conditions. The use of drones for commercial deliveries has increased significantly during the past year because of the COVID-19 virus-based pandemic.
Amazon Prime Air vice-president David Carbon explained: “This certification is an important step forward for Prime Air and indicates the FAA’s confidence in Amazon’s operating and safety procedures for an autonomous drone delivery service that will one day deliver packages to our customers around the world.” He added: “We will continue to develop and refine our technology to fully integrate delivery drones into the airspace and work closely with the FAA and other regulators around the world to realize our vision of 30-minute delivery.”
The approval comes as the result of Amazon working with the FAA for five years on achieving the vision of delivery by unmanned vehicle. The FAA granted an experimental airworthiness certificate to Amazon’s logistics division in 2015 after Amazon had announced plans to pursue delivery by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in 2013. The latest Prime Air drone (see the figure) has a range of 15 miles and can carry packages weighing under 5 lbs.