Amazon has permission to fly its drones over longer distances


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has given Amazon permission to fly its delivery drones beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS). With that hurdle cleared, the company claims it can fly farther and expand drone service, providing customers faster delivery and a larger selection of items, Amazon announced in a blog post.

Until now, the FAA has only allowed Amazon to fly drones as far as someone could see them from the ground. That way, spotters or pilots could ensure that drones weren’t interfering with aircraft. However, the constraint seriously limited how far the drones could travel.

To move beyond that, Amazon said it spent years developing “onboard detect-and-avoid technology.” It submitted engineering information to the FAA including operation, maintenance and performance details. Flight tests were then conducted in the presence of FAA inspectors around airplanes, helicopters and a hot air balloon to “demonstrate how the drone safely navigated away from each one of them,” Amazon said.

With BVLOS approval in hand, the company plans to expand its delivery area around its drone facility at College Station, Texas. Later in 2024, drone deliveries will be integrated into its broader delivery network.

Last month, Amazon announced that it was halting drone deliveries at one of its first test sites in Lockeford, California, without providing a specific reason. At the same time, it said it would launch drone deliveries in the West Valley, Phoenix metro area.



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