Amazon expands drone delivery service after overcoming FAA hurdles

An Amazon delivery drone is displayed at Amazon’s BOS27 Robotics Innovation Center in Westborough, Massachusetts, on November 10, 2022.

Joseph Prezioso | AFP | beautiful images

Amazon said Thursday it has received federal approval to fly its delivery drones at longer distances without the need for a ground monitor, clearing a key regulatory hurdle and opening up opportunities for the company to expand services to more areas of the United States

Previously, Amazon was required to fly its drones within the pilot’s line of sight. Federal Aviation Administration approval allows Amazon to conduct flights beyond the visual field of view of observers.

The company said it will expand its delivery area to College Station, Texas, one of the cities where it is conducting testing.

Amazon received the approval after developing collision avoidance technology on its drones that allows them to “detect and avoid airborne obstacles.” Technology has been an important tool for other drone delivery companies, such as Zipline, looking to operate beyond visual line of sight, or BVLOS.

The e-commerce giant’s drone delivery service, Prime Air, has been struggling since the Amazon founder Jeff Bezos laid out his vision for this program more than a decade ago.

In 2022, Amazon said it will begin testing deliveries at University Station, Texasabout 100 miles northwest of Houston, and Lockeforda town south of Sacramento where the show is located was initially met with some skepticism by residents.

Prime Air was fired last year as part of broader job cuts at Amazon. The group also encountered regulatory and obstacles departure of the executive director. Last month, Amazon speak it will end drone operations in California and begin deliveries in Phoenix, Arizona later this year.

It is also aiming to expand further into other US cities by 2025. The company said it aims to deliver 500 million packages by drone per year by the end of the decade.

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