Amazon not giving up on its UAV dream
July 14, 2014 By The Associated Press
July 14, 2014, New York, N.Y. - Amazon is asking the Federal Aviation Administration permission to use drones as part of its plan to deliver packages to customers in 30 minutes or less.
The news sent Amazon's shares up nearly 5 per cent in midday trading.
The online retailer created a media frenzy in December
when it outlined a plan on CBS' "60 Minutes" to deliver packages with
self-guided aircrafts that seemed straight out of science fiction.
In a letter to the FAA dated Wednesday,
Amazon said it is developing aerial vehicles as part of Amazon Prime
Air. The aircraft can travel over 50 miles per hour and carry loads of
up to 5 pounds. About 86 per cent of Amazon's deliveries are 5 pounds or
less, the company said.
"We believe customers will
love it, and we are committed to making Prime Air available to
customers worldwide as soon as we are permitted to do so," Amazon said
in the letter.
The FAA allows hobbyists and model
aircraft makers to fly drones, but commercial use is mostly banned.
Amazon is asking for an exemption so it can test its drones in the U.S.
The Seattle company says its drone testing will only take place over
Amazon's private property, away from airports or areas with aviation
activity —and not in densely populated areas or near military bases.
The FAA is slowly moving
forward with guidelines on commercial drone use. Last year, Congress
directed the agency to grant drones access to U.S. skies by September
2015. But the agency already has missed several key deadlines and said
the process would take longer than Congress expected.
So far, two drone models — Boeing and the
Insitu Group's ScanEagle, and AeroVironment's Puma — are certified to
operate commercially, but only in Alaska. One is being used by BP to
survey pipelines, and the other is supporting emergency response crews
for oil spill monitoring and wildlife surveillance, according to the
"We're continuing to work with
the FAA to meet Congress's goal of getting drones flying commercially
in America safely and soon," said Paul Misener, Amazon's vice-president
of global public policy, in a statement. "We want to do more research
and development close to home."
The FAA did not respond to a request for comment.