Amazon received approval to operate a fleet of Prime Air delivery drones from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), according to CNBC. The approval includes privileges that will let the retail giant “safely and efficiently deliver packages to customers” under Part 135 of FAA regulations, which allow using small drones “beyond the visual line of sight” of the operator.
“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,” said David Carbon, VP of Prime Air in a statement. “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.”
Amazon has spent years developing its drone delivery capabilities under the Prime Air brand. The retailer made its first autonomous drone delivery on Dec. 7, 2016 to a shopper in Cambridgeshire, England, within 13 minutes of the customer placing the order. However, the initial UK tests were limited to two people with a large piece of property near an Amazon warehouse.
The retailer has since expanded its capabilities. In 2019, it unveiled an electric delivery drone capable of carrying 5 lb. packages up to 15 miles within half an hour. While Amazon noted that the Prime Air fleet still isn’t prepared to immediately make deliveries at scale, the company is actively developing its technology.