Amazon drones get FAA approval for BVLOS

We’re excited to share that the FAA has given Prime Air additional permissions that allow us to operate our drones beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS), enabling us to now serve more customers via drone and effectively expand and scale our drone delivery operations. To obtain this permission, we developed a BVLOS strategy, including an onboard detect-and-avoid technology. We’ve spent years developing, testing, and refining our onboard detect-and-avoid system to ensure our drones can detect and avoid obstacles in the air,” the Amazon blog from 30MAY24, reads. 11 years on from Amazon’s drone beginnings and four years after the initial FAA Air Carrier Certificate award enabling Amazon to operate as an airline and deliver small packages via drone, Prime Air is now in a position to increase its network of drone deliveries across Texas using its MK-27 drone, and safely scale operations to more U.S. destinations. In the case of BVLOS, remote pilots use technology to monitor and control drone flights. Amazon is planning to operate drones near its Same-Day Delivery sites to ensure faster delivery, and offer a greater palette of products via drone.

Amazon’s drones can now fly beyond the trees. Image: Amazon

The FAA permissions came after Amazon presented the results of its BVLOS strategy including crucial engineering information regarding the design, operation, maintenance and validation of its BVLOS system, including onboard detect-and-avoid capabilities. Flight demonstrations were conducted in the presence of FAA inspectors, to give an idea of safe navigation performance in real-world scenarios, such as in the presence of real planes, helicopters, and a hot air balloon.

Our vision has remained unchanged since we started working on Prime Air: to create a safe and scalable way to deliver packages to customers in 30 minutes or less using highly autonomous drones. To achieve our goal of delivering 500 million packages, per year, by drone, by the end of this decade, we knew we had to design a system capable of serving highly populated areas and that was safer than driving to the store. […] we’re excited to launch this next chapter for Prime Air,” the report concludes.

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