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article imageFederal Aviation Administration allows for Amazon’s drones

By Eric Deville     Mar 24, 2015 in Technology
Last Thursday, the Federal Aviation Administration issued an experimental airworthiness certificate to Amazon that will let the company test-drive Prime Air on the American grounds.
That does not mean, however, that the service is going to be available for the general public any time soon.
Prime Air is a future express delivery system that would allow Amazon’s customers to receive their goods 30 minutes or less after placing their orders. As shown in the video available on the company’s website, the packages, attached to small unmanned aerial vehicles, would fly out directly from the Amazon warehouse and be dropped off at the customer’s doorstep.
First announced in 2013, the project has been facing continuous backlash from F.A.A. As TechCrunch reports, he strict federal regulations preventing commercial use of drones forced Amazon to move its development overseas to Cambridge, U.K. Until yesterday, the future of Prime Air in the United States appeared questionable at best. The new ruling, issued in response to Amazon’s petition from July 2014, has a potential to change that.
But it does come with strings attached.
Amazon will be finally able to bring the drones to America and for that reason the F.A.A. certificate counts as a major step forward in the testing process. However, it also precludes the company from flying the drones autonomously, that is without a human’s control from the ground. The vehicle will have to remain within the licensed pilot’s eyesight (binoculars are not allowed), and fly no higher than 400 feet, only during daylight hours and never above people.
As The New York Times reports, the tests will be conducted on a private property located in rural Washington State.
Despite being a success for Amazon, the ruling still does not allow for a complete autonomy of a drone, which ultimately prohibits the implementation of Prime Air. Paul Misener, the company’s vice president of Global Public Policy, claims that Amazon is not giving up on its project and is committed to lobby for more relaxed aviation rules that would allow for Prime Air to be launched in the United States. In the meantime, however, the e-commerce magnate is “prepared to deploy where [it has] the regulatory support” it needs - including abroad.
What will actually happen to the drones remains mere speculation. For now, all we know is that Amazon won its first battle with the Federal Aviation Administration. But will it win the war?
More about Drones, FAA, federal aviation association, Amazon, Innovation
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