As Amazon prepares to launch its ‘Amazon Prime Air’ drone delivery service, a new ruling by the FAA may have killed the service before it got off the ground.
For quite some time now, online retailer Amazon has been gearing up to launch a service called ‘Amazon Prime Air’ which would deliver goods to customers via drones. Hoping to become a success based on the popularity of their one-day delivery program, Amazon Prime, the drone delivery service had been gathering hype ever since it was announced some time ago.
The biggest selling point for Amazon Prime Air was of course, the speed of its deliveries. In theory, if you only lived a few minutes or so from an Amazon depot, they would be able to load your lightweight order onto a drone and have a pilot fly it directly to your house. It might cost you a pretty penny but if you’ve got lots of money and little patience, that’s the type of thing you’d be willing to fork out for.
But there were always concerns of safety as ‘drone delivery service’ conjured up images of drone rotors lodged in bodies and packages clunking people on the head. It seems that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has taken these concerns into account as their new ruling on drone may have just killed Amazon Prime Air for good.
In their new policy for small unmanned aircrafts (including drones), the FAA explains that all drone pilots must be properly certified (with certification costing under $300) before they take to the skies. Drones can only be flown under 500 feet and flights must be done in daylight hours. While having to fly under 500 feet might have caused some trouble for Amazon’s drones (which would probably like to fly a little higher to avoid flying into any buildings or monuments) that’s not what put the nail in the coffin.
The FAA also explains drones can be used for law enforcement, agriculture, search and rescue, bridge inspection and real estate photography but not for things like package delivery. All of those activities make sense from a safety perspective as they can all be done in areas where people are unlikely to be walking around in large crowds and therefore the risk of a pedestrian getting a face full of rotor is significantly lower, but as package delivery isn’t on the list of accepted activities, Amazon Prime Air could be dead for now.
There is the smallest glimmer of hope in the fact that the FAA had previously banned all commercial flights of drones. This list of activities are a reflection of the fact that the FAA has changed its mind on commercial drone delivery and so they could possibly change their mind on package delivery in the future too. This is especially the case if they decide to work with Amazon to ensure that Amazon Prime Air can take place without a hitch. That’s what Amazon will be hoping for anyway, so we’ll let you know more information on that once we have it.