Amazon Prime Air Delivery Drones Cleared to Fly Farther From Home

Why Trust Techopedia
Key Takeaways

  • Amazon has been cleared to fly Prime Air delivery drones beyond line of sight.
  • This will let Amazon not only deliver in more parts of a city, but reach more cities.
  • Collision avoidance systems keep the drones safe beyond visual range.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has given Amazon approval to operate its Prime Air drone delivery service beyond visual line of sight, significantly expanding its coverage.

The regulator was satisfied that Amazon’s “detect-and-avoid” system could steer drones away from aircraft and other obstacles when outside of visual range. Without approval, companies have to stay within an operator’s line of sight.

The approval will let Amazon “immediately” serve more customers in the existing College Station, Texas coverage area. This also makes it more practical to “safely scale” drone delivery to more places in the US, Amazon said.

Amazon already has plans to make Prime Air drone delivery more of a practical option. The online shopping giant plans to bring service to the Phoenix Metro Area’s West Valley later this year. Those drones will be the first to be integrated into the Amazon delivery network, taking off next to a Same-Day Delivery site. That should both speed up deliveries and allow for a wider range of airborne orders.

The ultimate aim is to ship goods to customers in under 30 minutes using largely autonomous drones, dropping off as many as 500 million packages each year by 2030. The FAA clearance was essential to this goal — even if Amazon could build many more drone delivery sites, it would still take longer to pick up packages before visiting customers.

Amazon still faces a number of challenges. It’s gradually facing more competition, including Alphabet’s Wing. All drone delivery providers also have to deal with range limitations, noise issues, and privacy concerns. Collision avoidance is a major improvement, but truly ubiquitous access will require drones that can serve remote customers and avoid disturbing neighborhoods.