Amazon will begin testing delivery drones after getting approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the US.
The FAA yesterday (19th March) issued Amazon Logistics, Inc an “experimental airworthiness certificate” for an unmanned aircraft (UAS) design.
Under the terms of the certificate all of Amazon’s test flights must be conducted at 400ft or below during daylight in “visual meteorological conditions”.
The drone must also always remain within sight of the pilot and observer, and the pilot flying the drone must have “at least a private pilot’s certificate and current medical certification”.
Amazon will have to give the FAA monthly data on its testing, which includes the number of flights conducted, pilot duty time per flight, unusual hardware or software malfunctions, any deviations from air traffic controllers’ instructions, and any unintended loss of communication links.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos first talked about plans for delivery drones at the end of 2013, saying that “Octocopters” could potentially deliver customers' orders in half an hour.
The drone would be powered by electric motors, said Bezos at the time, fly through the air and deliver packages up to 2.3kg, which make up 86% of the online retailer’s orders.
They would cover a 10-mile radius from distribution centres and use GPS co-ordinates to drop packages at customers’ doors.
In November 2014 Amazon UK started advertising for flight operations engineers, who would be responsible for delivering drone technologies.