Breaking news: Amazon obtains regulatory approval to expand US drone deliveries

By:
on May 30, 2024
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  • Amazon announced a significant development for its delivery operations today.
  • The US aviation authority FAA has given its approval for Amazon to expand drone deliveries significantly.
  • The news likely means substantial expansion for its delivery operations, a crucial aspect of it business.

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Today, Magnificent Seven company Amazon announced that its Amazon drones can now fly farther and deliver to more customers, following Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval.

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The approval is certainly a significant move forward for the company’s drone US delivery operations – crucial to Amazon’s bottom line and expansion plans going forward.

“We’re excited to share that the FAA has given Prime Air additional permissions that allow us to operate our drones beyond visual line of sight, enabling us to now serve more customers via drone and effectively expand and scale our drone delivery operations,” Amazon said on their website today.

How FAA approval works

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Obtaining the FAA nod is far from a simple process for drone-flying delivery services. That’s because the FAA requires that all commercial drone operators are able to maintain a line of sight to their drones until it approves a technology that can safely enable drones to fly beyond visual line of sight.

The alternative, known as Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) is not traditionally allowed. This is where the remote pilot can’t see the drone being piloted directly with their own eyes, instead relying on instruments or technology to monitor and control drones.

Regulatory scrutiny

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Obviously, this poses a slight problem to mega-corporations looking to deliver items en masse via drone nationwide in the Untied States.  

So, when it comes to commercial drones, regulators around the world have been working on creating new rules and authorizing technologies that will allow more complex drone operations, like package delivery, to safely scale and operate beyond the line of sight of a remote pilot.

The approval process

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And according to Amazon, it has just such a technology:

To obtain this permission, we developed a BVLOS strategy, including an onboard detect-and-avoid technology. We’ve spent years developing, testing, and refining our onboard detect-and-avoid system to ensure our drones can detect and avoid obstacles in the air. We then conducted flight demonstrations in the presence of FAA inspectors to show our system works – we flew in the presence of real planes, helicopters, and a hot air balloon to demonstrate how the drone safely navigated away from each of them. After reviewing the information and observing the technology in action at our test site, the FAA provided Amazon Prime Air with BVLOS approval.”

First Texas, then USA

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Amazon first received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to operate its fleet of Prime Air delivery drones in August 2020, thanks to pandemic shutdown.

However, the company has been looking to expand its drone reach significantly since then – something which it was able to announce today.

According to Amazon today, it will now expand its drone delivery area to just College Station, Texas.

However, things will progress nationwide from there:

Later this year, drone deliveries will begin integrating into Amazon’s delivery network, meaning drones will deploy from facilities next to our Same-Day Delivery sites, which will provide Amazon customers with faster delivery of an even greater selection of items.”

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