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Amazon is gearing up for Prime Air

There is plenty of discussion surrounding the operation of unmanned aerial vehicles within the U.S. The U.S. National Parks Service put the kibosh on drones within national parks because they “can be extremely noisy, and can impact the natural soundscape.”
 
More recently, CNN and the Georgia Institute of Technology of banded together to study the use of UAVs for newsgathering and media coverage.
 
The FAA is slowly warming up to the idea of providing greater freedom to operates UAVs in U.S. airspace, and handed out the first commercial UAV license last month. Now Amazon is knocking on the FAA’s door for permission to start its own UAV trials.
 
According to Reuters, Amazon is seeking permission to fly drones in the Seattle area in preparation for its much-ballyhooed Prime Air delivery service. Amazon’s Prime Air delivery vehicles would be capable of carrying five-pound packages at up to 50 mph.

 
As previously reported by Amazon, the five-pound capacity would be enough to support 86% of the products that the company sells on its website. Amazon is hoping that once fully operational, its Prime Air service will be able to deliver packages to customers in 30 minutes or less (you hear that, Dominoes?)
 
In fact, Amazon has extremely high hopes for its Prime Air service, stating, “One day, seeing Amazon Prime Air will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today, resulting in enormous benefits for consumers across the nation.”

 
Amazon has the resources to make such an endeavor possible, and noted in its letter that it is already working on its eighth- and ninth-generation UAVs. In addition, the company has amassed a team that includes “world-renowned roboticists, scientists, aeronautical engineers, remote sensing experts, and a former NASA astronaut.”
 
Amazon is seeking FAA approval because its UAV efforts have thus far been limited to indoor testing or in other countries. Testing a 50 mph drone is obviously problematic and Amazon would rather perform flights tests closer to its Seattle headquarters where it’s cost effective rather than perform the tests in another country.

Sources: Reuters, FAA Request [PDF]





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