Amazon granted new authority to test-fly delivery drones

The Federal Aviation Administration granted the new license after a previous decision left Amazon's most recently developed drones grounded.
(Image: Amazon via CNET)

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted Amazon an exemption to test-fly its delivery drones.

Amazon was previously given the go-ahead, but the authority did not apply to its latest test drone. The retail and cloud giant criticized the federal authority for acting too slowly, accusing it of being wrapped up in legal and regulatory bureaucracy.

The new request, granted in a letter dated April 8, said Amazon can "conduct outdoor research and development testing for Prime Air," the name of the company's drone-delivery service.

Amazon must keep its drones to an altitude of no higher than 400 feet, and no faster than 100 miles-per-hour, the letter says.

The company first announced it would break into the drone delivery market on CBS' 60 Minutes last year. (CBS owns ZDNet and CNET.) But the company's founder Jeff Bezos warned the so-called "octocopter" would not launch any time soon, citing a lack of rules governing unmanned aircraft.

Eventually, Amazon wants to be able to deliver light packages to customers within a 10-mile radius of its local distribution centers.

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