Amazon has now been granted approval by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to begin its first unmanned commercial delivery trials. This is a fundamental step in the midst of complicated legal regulations for the start of the e-commerce giant‘s ambitious drone parcel delivery project.
The company will use Prime Air, the hexagon-shaped next-gen hybrid drone it showed off last year. The drones are allowed to fly autonomously without a line of sight to the person who controls the unmanned aircraft. In order to receive this certification, Amazon had to demonstrate, among other things, how to handle the drones and document the pilot’s training program.
“The 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,” David Carbon, head of the Prime Air program, said in a statement to Bloomberg.
The aircraft has a range of around 15 miles (24 km) and can transport a payload of 2.2 kilograms. It relies on visual, temperature, and ultrasonic sensors, as well as machine learning, to safely fly, with technology capable of predicting and preventing accidents. It is supposed to deliver packages under five pounds to customers within 30 minutes of ordering.
When and where the drone deliveries will start regularly, Amazon has not yet announced. The guidelines will be adapted from the safety rules that airlines have to follow when offering commercial airline services – without the parts that concern the onboard crew and passengers, of course. The FAA says it is developing more suitable standards for this type of operation and should present them by the end of this year.