Remember Amazon's plans to start delivering packages via drone by next year? Well, they took a big hit last month when the Federal Aviation Administration expressely forbade the practice. it stated that any unmanned aerial vehicle not used for hobby or recreation, ie a commercial business like Amazon’s, was to remain illegal in the United States.
For most companies, that would be a major setback, but nobody really expected Amazon to give up, and simply go quietly that easily, did they? Of course not! So, now, the company has written a letter to the FAA asking to be exempted from the restrictions, saying it is in "the public interest" to do so.
"At Amazon, our energy comes from inventing on behalf of customers. Amazon Prime Air, a new delivery system that will get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less using aerial vehicles, is one invention we are incredibly passionate about. 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," the company wrote in a letter published at Regulations.gov.
"Granting Amazon an exemption to allow R&D testing outdoors in the United States is in the public interest because it advances Congress’s goal of getting commercial sUAS flying in the United States safely and soon."
Unless the FAA grants the exemption, all of Amazon's research and development will continue to either take place indoors or in other countries. And the company makes it clear it would much rather innovate here than somewhere else.
It is a necessary step towards realizing the consumer benefits of Amazon Prime Air and, at this point, Amazon’s continuing innovation in the United States requires the requested exemption for outdoor testing in support of our R&D," it says in the letter.
Amazon is, of course, not the only one asking to be exempted.
In fact, the letter came in response to a request by the FAA a couple of weeks ago for public comment on whether it should grant exceptions to seven aerial photo and video production companies that had asked for exemptions that would "allow the film and television industry to use unmanned aircraft systems."
Part of the company's reasoning for wanting to make commercial drones legal is "thousands of hobbyists and manufacturers of model aircraft" are already manning the same aircrafts, so why can't Amazon?
Eventually, the FAA is really going to have to answer that question. I believe it is ultimately a matter of when, not if, Amazon and other commercial companies will be able to deliver via drone.
(Image source: amazon.com)