Amazon says its much-hyped delivery drones are ready to hit the skies, and the company is asking the FAA for permission to begin testing outdoors with flights near Seattle.
But it's still too soon to expect the flying robots to replace delivery trucks for a while.
At present, all commercial drone flights are banned, and the Federal Aviation Administration has been stingy with exemptions. Last month, the agency announced it was considering proposals by film companies to use drones on their sets. The companies' exemption requests highlighted the contained nature of the shoots, and FAA spokesman Les Dorr emphasized that the agency would consider allowing operations in "controlled, low-risk situations."
Amazon's exemption proposal takes great care to fall into those parameters — meaning its drones won't be buzzing anywhere near your neighborhood.
"The operations will be conducted in a confined area over isolated Amazon private property," reads the document, far away from "any densely populated areas." In addition, Amazon said the drones will be within the line of site of testing personnel at all times, and operators will be FAA-certified private pilots.
The company's caution extends to its flight area, which it says will be geo-fenced to keep drones in tight parameters. Pilots will also have a button that immediately forces a landing if communication is lost or a situation requires it for safety reasons.