Amazon executives and senior officials from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have testified before Congress on how feasible drones are for commercial purposes, resulting in the possibility of Amazon using drones for deliveries within a year.
This could see packages arrive only 30 minutes after being ordered — a huge improvement over the current shipment time of several days. It would likely boost online sales as more users order items they need immediately. This could also be the final nail in the coffin for many brick-and-mortar stores.
"If a consumer wants a small item quickly, instead of driving to go shopping or causing delivery automobiles to come to her home or office, a small, electrically-powered (drone) vehicle will make the trip faster and more efficiently and cleanly," said Paul E. Misener, vice president of global public policy for Amazon.
The rules come only a few months after regulations were proposed that commercial drones would have to stay in eyesight at all times — significantly limiting the distance and effectiveness of drones as a delivery method.
Despite the fact that these regulations could be changed in the near future, the FAA suggests that more research and development of drones needs to take place before they can be commercially used in a widespread way.
"We are working diligently to develop a regulatory framework that will allow for innovation while ensuring the safety of other users of the airspace and people and property on the ground," said FAA Administrator Michael Whitaker.
New rules will likely be put in motion within a year, and Amazon assures customers that by the time the rules are finalized, the company will be ready to implement a drone delivery system.
Amazon does, however, want the FAA to regulate the drone delivery program — rather than state or local authorities, which would make the company more vulnerable to local demands.
"We'd like to begin delivering to our customers as soon as it's approved," continued Paul E. Misener. "We will have it in place by the time any regulations are ready. We are working very quickly."
Not everyone is for the use of drones on a commercial level, however. Every month, the FAA receives around 25 reports of drones flying in the vicinity of planes, with some saying that it's only a matter of time before a drone collides with a plane and causes serious damage.
Not only that, but an off-duty intelligence officer recently flew a drone onto the grounds of the White House — highlighting just how easy it is for drones to navigate seemingly secure locations.