updated 12:46 pm EDT, Fri July 11, 2014
Amazon wants to perform outdoor drone testing in United States
Amazon has asked the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for permission to fly its in-development Prime Air delivery drones. The petition, filed with the FAA on July 9th and published yesterday, asks for an exemption from the FAA Modernization and Reform Act 2012, which currently permits the civilian outdoor flying of model aircraft only for hobbyists and manufacturers.
Because of the rules, Amazon is forced to perform the tests of its drones indoors and in other countries. "Of course, Amazon would prefer to keep the focus, jobs, and investment of this important research and development initiative in the United States," writes Amazon, advising it wants to perform flights near its development team in Seattle.
The request details the advances the team has made with their drones over the last five months, reports CNET. Prototypes by the team have been able to fly at speeds of more than 50 miles per hour while carrying a five-pound package, while other iterations are being tested for improved agility, longer flight duration, and obstacle avoidance.
"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," states the letter. Sections later on explaining the motives for the delivery system suggest the scheme is in the public interest as it could deliver packages to customers within 30 minutes or less.
If granted the permit, Amazon intends to use one or more of the "six FAA-selected test sites" for the trials, in confined areas away from airports and military locations, with the highest altitude the drones will go set at 400 feet. The drones themselves will be battery-powered devices and will have a "maximum weight of less than 55 pounds," though it is unclear if this includes the fuel source and the package.