Amazon today revealed new details on the state of its drone delivery project in a petition filed with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The petition, submitted on July 9 but only made public today, details Amazon’s end-goal of making “Prime Air available to customers worldwide as soon as [it is] permitted to do so” by regulators. In the short-term, Amazon simply seeks permission to conduct “private research and development operations outdoors near Seattle.”
As in Prime Air’s 60 Minutes debut, Amazon describes the service as “a new delivery system that will get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less using aerial vehicles.” When Amazon first announced the project, conveniently as the holiday shopping season started heating up, many regarded it as a publicity stunt, as Reuters notes.
However, Amazon’s petition reveals how far the project has come since last December. “We are rapidly experimenting and iterating on Prime Air inside our next generation research and development lab in Seattle,” Amazon’s vice president of public policy Paul Misener writes in the petition. Misener claims that over the past five months Amazon has “made advancements toward the development of highly automated aerial vehicles for Prime Air” in the following ways:
Testing a range of capabilities for our eighth- and ninth-generation aerial vehicles, including agility, flight duration, redundancy, and sense-and-avoid sensors and algorithms; developing aerial vehicles that travel over 50 miles per hour, and will carry 5-pound payloads, which cover 86% of products sold on Amazon; and attracting a growing team of world-renowned roboticists, scientists, aeronautical engineers, remote sensing experts, and a former NASA astronaut.
Amazon has clearly thrown capital and time into this initiative, but the company is likely a long way from technical completion and legislative approval — particularly if existing laws continue to hinder Amazon’s research and development projects (and they already have, as the petition indicates).
You can view Amazon’s petition, in full, below: