Amazon Reveals Fresh Details on its Drone Delivery Service

Amazon has been developing its drone delivery service, Amazon Prime Air, for nearly three years. While the process has been slow, and had many hurdles to tackle, the company remains confident that Prime Air will launch soon, but it will not necessarily make its debut in the US.

In an exclusive interview with Yahoo, Amazon’s Vice President for Global Public Policy Paul Misener, revealed that the logistics of Prime Air, which will use custom drones to make deliveries more than 10 miles from an Amazon depot, have been established, with the only sticking point, in the US at least, being with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“The goals we’ve set for ourselves are: The range has to be over 10 miles. These things will weigh about 55 pounds each, but they’ll be able to deliver parcels that weigh up to five pounds,” Misener told Yahoo’s David Pogue. “It turns out that the vast majority of the things we sell at Amazon weigh less than five pounds.”

Regarding dealing with climate, weather conditions, and urban terrain, Misener said, “our customers live in a wide variety of buildings. Some live in rural farmhouses, some live in high-rise city skyscrapers, and then everything in between, in suburban and exurban environments. We want to be able to serve all of those customers. And it may take a different kind of a drone to best work in each one.”

Amazon is still in negotiations with the FAA, and various other international airspace regulators, to make Prime Air viable without impacting existing air traffic.

“[W]e’ve proposed to regulators around the world, including the FAA, a certain kind of an airspace design that would keep the drones separated from the aircraft,” Misener explained. “We were thinking: Manned aircraft above 500 feet. Between 400 and 500 feet there’d be a no-fly zone — a safety buffer. Between 200 and 400 feet would be a transit zone, where drones could fly fairly quickly, horizontally. And then below 200 feet, that would be limited to certain operations. For us, it would be takeoff and landing. For others, it might be aerial photography. The realtors, for example, wouldn’t need to fly above 200 feet to get a great shot of a house.”

However, if the FAA refuses to allow Amazon’s drone deliveries, the company will continue to pursue the strategy in other countries. “There’s no reason why the United States must be first,” Misener added. “We hope it is.”

Amazon released a new video last month showcasing Prime Air, inexplicably starring Jeremy Clarkson (well, he is under contract now):

 

Amazon Drone Delivery in US Rural Areas Approved by FAA

Amazon has been given approval by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to conduct same-day drone deliveries in rural areas. The FAA has granted Amazon Prime Air an experimental airworthiness certificate to conduct drone tests over remote parts of Washington state.

The company must comply with strict regulations, restricting flights to no higher an altitude than 400ft (120m), “during daylight hours”, and only in “visual meteorological conditions” (i.e. no heavy snow or rain). The certificate only grants flight privileges to one approved model of drone; should Amazon modify its drone, or want to use a new model, the FAA would have to grant a new certificate before Amazon was allowed to fly it.

The news is especially positive for Amazon since, after the FAA issued proposed rules for US drone flights back in February, it seemed as though the dream of Prime Air had been killed off before it had even started.

Source: The Guardian

Has the FAA Killed Amazon Prime Air?

Prime Air, Amazon’s ambitious 30-minute drone delivery service, may have been downed by the US Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) new regulation proposals before it even got off the ground. NBC News has reported that these new regulations are designed to control and restrict commercial drone flights:

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said that operators of commercial unmanned aircraft would need to see the drone with “unaided vision,” in draft rules published on Sunday. It also said that small drones must not fly over people – denting Amazon’s plans for its Prime Air drone delivery service.

The FAA was quick to stress that the regulations are still in the proposal stage and that they are still gathering input from all affected parties.

Despite this, Paul Misener, Vice President of Amazon, sounds hopeful that the company will still be able to fulfil its vision, saying, “The FAA needs to begin and expeditiously complete the formal process to address the needs of our business, and ultimately our customers. We are committed to realizing our vision for Prime Air and are prepared to deploy where we have the regulatory support we need.”

Source: BGR