What if you could buy a product on Amazon, then get your purchase delivered to your home in 30 minutes or less, instead of a day or two? It’s going to happen in the United States now that Amazon has gotten FAA approval for drone delivery.
CEO Jeff Bezos first announced the drone program in 2013, and now that Amazon has received an important certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration, delivery drones are that much closer to becoming a reality.
The certificate, according to CNN, is called a Part 135 air carrier certificate, and it’s required for a company to begin making drone deliveries. Amazon has said it plans to start doing test deliveries, but it hasn’t revealed when or where those tests will occur (it carried out its first test delivery in Britain in December 2016). The mega retailer says it has test centers all over the world and that it has logged thousands of hours of test flights at those centers.
Amazon claims that, in order to acquire the air carrier certificate, it validated more than 500 safety and efficiency processes as part of its application.
According to CNN, Amazon’s drone delivery program has gone slowly since the test delivery in Britain nearly four years ago. In June 2019, Jeff Wilke, the CEO of Amazon Worldwide Consumer, stated that Amazon would start delivering products with drones within a few months. It hasn’t happened yet.
Last March, a former Boeing executive named David Carbon joined Amazon and became the new head of its drone program. Carbon says getting approval for the Part 135 certificate is a big step forward.
“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,” Carbon said.
Worries about social distancing during the pandemic have increased interest in using robots to make deliveries. “But,” says CNN, “the technologies aren’t ready yet for widespread use. The FAA is also still developing regulations needed for widespread drone use, such as the remote identification of drones.”
Amazon isn’t the first company to get its Part 135 certificate from the FAA. Two other companies, UPS and Wing, received their certification in 2019. Both of those companies have already made drone deliveries.
Below are videos of from Amazon’s UK project.
And here’s a more amusing version featuring Jeremy Clarkson.