Amazon requests FAA permission to test 50 Mph drones for package delivery

From The Verge:

Amazon has asked the Federal Aviation Administration if it can start testing delivery drones in its own facilities in a bid to speed up the rollout of its Amazon Prime Air shipping service. The company sent a letter to the FAA this week, in which it requested the opportunity to carry out research and development on the unmanned aerial vehicles designed to carry packages to Amazon customers. Currently, if the Seattle-based company wants to test new designs for its drones outside, it has to travel to one of six FAA-approved sites dotted around the country. If its request for exemption from FAA rules is granted, it would mean the company's R&D team — which includes an ex-NASA astronaut — wouldn't need to leave the Amazon campus to trial new drones.

The retail giant has been rapidly iterating on drone technology since it announced plans for unmanned aerial delivery late last year. In April, Amazon boss Jeff Bezos said the company had already tested the fifth and sixth iterations of the unmanned aerial vehicles it plans to use to deliver goods, with the seventh and eighth being designed. In Amazon's request for exemption, it says it's now ready to test the eighth- and ninth-generation vehicles.

In the same document, Amazon offers up some details about its planned delivery drones, saying that it plans for them to be capable of travelling over 50 miles per hour while carrying up to 5 pounds worth of products. CThe request for exemption also states that drones will remain within line of sight of observers during testing, and will stop their journey and return to a specific point if their communications link is severed.

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Comment by Randy on July 10, 2014 at 9:50pm

Cool news, I wish them the best!

50mph (= 80km/h or 22m/s) is nothing to sneeze at but still quite do-able.  I think a stock 3DR quad can do at least 15m/s (=33mph or 50km/h) and at AVC we've seen them reaching over 30m/s (=67mph or 108km/h).  Of course these will be bigger than a 3dr quad if they're carrying 5pounds (2.2kg) of stuff.  Anyway, fun times!

Comment by Cliff-E on July 10, 2014 at 11:08pm

Of course don't count out hybrid quads. 20+m/s on traditional planes is more likely. And I'm surprised no one has created an X2 model R/C scale clone yet ;)

Comment by Jesse on July 11, 2014 at 12:04am

It will be interesting to see how they plan on dispatching multiple drones at once, as well as how they plan to execute the delivery. They'd need custom software to launch multiple drones to specified locations autonomously. Once a drone reaches it's destination, it could "loiter" until a human controller could take over for landing/delivery. There is just no way our current technology will allow for a safe autonomous delivery to residential homes. Once a delivery is made, the drone would autonomously return "home".

Comment by Martin Szymanski on July 11, 2014 at 12:08am

This will work only with Rural communities. hehe

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on July 11, 2014 at 4:50am

Cliff, the X2 is mechanically extremely complicated.  Hard to imagine that anybody would build one at scale considering people are already generally scared off by single rotor helis.  The X2 is probably 5 times more complicated.  Collective pitch coax is not easy.

Besides, the Eurocopter X3 is already faster.  It's already much much simpler.  It's a standard single rotor, with 2 sets of anti-torque-pusher hybrid drives.  It's actually not complicated to build at all.

Comment by Jon Currier on July 11, 2014 at 7:00am
My stock 3DR Iris has clocked 47 mph in sport mode.
Comment by Euan Ramsay on July 11, 2014 at 8:05am
Naturally this will be rejected because it's commercial use.

Won't it?

Comment by Dwgsparky on July 11, 2014 at 8:15am

interesting that the letter and all the reasoning for the exemption are also published. 

Maybe all the US based operators should use the same format and keep the FAA busy for a while with their own exemption requests. 

Personally I dont see any difference between the Amazon testing and the activities at a local flying site. (except the "additional security measures to keep outsiders away" 

What good for them should be good for you. 

Comment by Mathew krawczun on July 11, 2014 at 8:31am

@ euan ramsay
easy answer no the FAA won't stop this.

the FAA rules do NOT stop commercial use of drone it just makes users get licences, the airframes have to get inspected and file flight paths just like every other aircraft in the sky.

Comment by Steve Cain on July 11, 2014 at 8:39am


There are no drone licences in the US... there is no legal framework whatsoever which is what the FAA is struggling with.

At some point their might be, but have no illusions they don't exist right now.


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