Amazon doesn't want to wait for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to figure out how and when to integrate drones in the American airspace, so it has asked for permission test the flying delivery robots as soon as possible.
The company sent an application for an exemption to the FAA on Thursday, making it clear that the ecommerce giant is serious about wanting to deliver packages with drones, which were first revealed on 60 Minutes in December.
"Amazon Prime Air [...] is one invention we are incredibly passionate about," Paul Misener, Amazon's vice president of global public policy, wrote in the application. "One day, seeing Amazon Prime Air will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today, resulting in enormous benefits for consumers across the nation."
Until now, Amazon has had to test its drones indoors or in other countries, where regulations are less strict, as Misener wrote in the application.
But flying them in U.S. airspace would be "in the the public interest,"But flying them in U.S. airspace would be "in the the public interest," he added, as it would advance "Congress’ goal of getting commercial sUAS [small unmanned aerial systems] flying in the United States safely and soon."
In 2012, Congress passed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act, which instructs the agency to start working and drafting rules to fully integrate drones in the American airspace by 2015. The legal status of drones in the U.S. is murky right now, but according to the FAA, only hobbyists are granted some freedoms with flying drones — as long as they keep them under 400 feet, 5 miles away from airports and within line of sight.
Businesses, on the other hand, are not legally permitted to fly drones, as they are considered for commercial purposes. The FAA recently singled out drone delivery, clarifying in a recent filing that it is illegal.
Several academic institutions and law enforcement agencies have been granted exemptions to fly drones, and even BP can now fly them in Alaska. So, Amazon wonders, why not us?
Amazon says it should be free to fly drones just like hobbyists areAmazon says it should be free to fly drones just like hobbyists are, and that it's not asking for any more freedoms than what amateurs currently have.
"Granting this request will do nothing more than allow Amazon to do what thousands of hobbyists and manufacturers of model aircraft do every day," the application read. "And we will abide by much stronger safety measures than currently required for these groups by FAA policies and regulations."
The application also includes some tantalizing details about Amazon drones and their current capabilities. The company claims they can travel over 50 miles per hour, and will carry 5‐pound payloads, which cover 86% of products sold on Amazon.
So will they fly? Only time will tell.
The FAA did not immediately answer to Mashable's request for comment.
Amazon's stock was up more than 4% in early trading Friday.
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For more on Mashable's coverage of unmanned aerial vehicles, check out Drone Beat.