After months of feedback and fine-tuning, the Federal Aviation Administration today issued its final versions of safety rules for drones that fly over people and at night — including the drones that Amazon is developing to make package deliveries.
“The new rules make way for the further integration of drones into our airspace by addressing safety and security concerns,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said in a news release. “They get us closer to the day when we will more routinely see drone operations such as the delivery of packages.”
Draft versions of the rules were issued a year ago, kicking off a review period during which the FAA received about 53,000 comments. The final rules take effect in about two months.
Irvine, Calif.-based Anduril Industries says it’s opening a new office in Seattle and will be hiring engineers to work on defense technologies.
“We are building bigger and better systems for our military as quickly as we can,” Palmer Luckey, the venture’s founder, said in a news release. “The incredible pool of talent in the Seattle area helps us accelerate that.”
In his LinkedIn posting, Porter insisted that worker safety was a high priority at Amazon, and mentioned the efforts that his group has been making.
“We are working hard to develop and deploy additional processes and technology for a range of measures – from social distancing to contact tracing,” Porter wrote. “We are developing mobile ultraviolet sanitation. My Prime Air drones and robotics group has become an R&D lab for COVID innovation that I can’t wait to share with you. Today I reviewed a list of 72 new ideas for improvements we can make.”
We’re hearing that further information about those ideas will be coming out soon. In the meantime, Business Insider is reporting that one of Prime Air’s projects is using lab space and equipment to produce protective plastic face shields for its warehouse workers and local hospitals.
Amazon and T-Mobile are among eight companies selected to help the Federal Aviation Administration establish technical requirements for Remote ID, a protocol that drones will be required to follow for broadcasting identification and location data while in flight.
The other companies include Airbus, AirMap, Intel, OneSky, Skyward and Alphabet’s drone subsidiary, Wing.
“The FAA will be able to advance the safe integration of drones into our nation’s airspace from these technology companies’ knowledge and expertise on remote identification,” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said today in a news release.
UPS’ drone subsidiary and the CVS pharmacy chain say they’ll start delivering prescription medicines to the nation’s largest retirement community next month, using Matternet’s M2 drone delivery system.
The service, approved by the Federal Aviation Administration under Part 107 rules, will be available for The Villages, a community in central Florida that’s home to more than 135,000 residents. UPS Flight Forward and CVS will be authorized to operate through the coronavirus pandemic and explore continuing needs as they arise once the pandemic fades.
Physical distancing and restrictions on retail business, enacted in response to the pandemic, are bringing more attention to the potential for drone deliveries.
The era of remote-controlled combat jets has come a little closer in the wake of a demonstration staged by Boeing and the Navy to fly two autonomously controlled EA-18G Growlers as uncrewed air systems.
The Federal Aviation Administration has issued proposed regulations that would require virtually all drones to transmit electronic identification codes while in flight.
“Remote ID technologies will enhance safety and security by allowing the FAA, law enforcement, and federal security agencies to identify drones flying in their jurisdiction,” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said today in a news release about the plan.
The newly proposed Remote ID system would build upon those earlier steps. It calls upon drone manufacturers to make their products capable of sending out identification codes as well as their location. The rules would apply to all drones heavier than 0.55 pounds (8.8 ounces), and manufacturers would have to comply two years after the regulations go into effect. Drone operators would have three years to phase out non-complying devices.
For a long time, Amazon has been looking into applications for self-driving vehicles — and testing fleets of self-flying drones for making package deliveries. So it only makes sense that the Seattle-based online retailing giant would meld those vehicles for a warehouse-to-doorstep delivery system virtually untouched by human hands.
In a patent published today, Amazon inventors Hilliard Bruce Siegel and Ethan Evans describe a system that has autonomous ground vehicles transport packages to a customer’s neighborhood — perhaps even the street in front of the customer’s door — and coordinate the doorstep delivery with a drone.
Both types of robo-carriers would be in contact wirelessly with a central computer network that would manage the operation. The ground vehicle could be directed to head over to a fulfillment center, pick up shipments and plot a course for deliveries. Drones could flit back and forth to drop off packages and charge up at the vehicle.