Amazon is apparently getting serious about using drones to make super quick, airborne deliveries like something you'd see on The Jetsons.
The Seattle-based e-tail giant has asked the government for permission for broader testing of the unmanned, compact and zippy aircraft. Among those involved in the experiments, the company says, are "world‐renowned roboticists, scientists, aeronautical engineers, remote sensing experts and a former NASA astronaut."
A company exec tells the Federal Aviation Administration in a letter that Amazon Prime Air will get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less in the rotor-powered flying machines.
"We believe customers will love it, and we are committed to making Prime Air available to customers worldwide as soon as we are permitted to do so," writes Paul Misener, vice president over global public policy.
Misener said in a statement to USA TODAY that the company is "continuing to work with the FAA to meet Congress's goal of getting drones flying commercially in America safely and soon. We want to do more R&D close to home."
Amazon is asking the FAA to allow extensive tests on company property, with the experiments under the control of a licensed pilot or at least someone who has passed FAA training required for pilots, according to the filing dated Wednesday.
Top speed of the drones being tested is over 50 miles an hour, Misener tells the FAA. They can carry up to five-pounds of merchandise, "which cover 86% of products sold on Amazon."
The experiments would be conducted in the United States, Amazon says, and employ such high-tech safeguards as a geo-fence -- a virtual barrier beyond which the drone would automatically be deactivated.
Conducting home-grown R&D on the devices would make experimentation easier. Now, tests can only be made at one of six FAA-approved sites across the U.S.
The drones to be tested would weigh no more than 55 pounds, says the Amazon letter dated Wednesday. They would fly no higher than 400 feet above the ground, the standard for remote-controlled airplanes.