Future Tense

FAA Relents, Gives Amazon Permission to Test Delivery Drones in the U.S.

A bird’s-eye (or possibly drone’s-eye) view of an Amazon warehouse.

Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

After Amazon threatened to take its delivery drone testing to other countries, and then did it (a lot), the Federal Aviation Administration has decided to offer the company a waiver on commerical drone restrictions.

According to an FAA letter from Wednesday, Amazon will now be able to test its delivery drones at up to 400 feet in the air and 100 miles per hour over private property for the next two years. Amazon had previously received a waiver from the FAA in March, but it applied only to an outdated drone model.

In the letter, the FAA summarized factors that contributed to its decision. The agency writes that the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International “and an individual commenter noted that there is a compelling need for the FAA to allow Amazon to test their systems to ensure the next evolution in package delivery happens in the United States first.”

This victory for Amazon could be a unique exception as the FAA evolves its drone policy, but the more businesses chip away, the more the agency will be forced to respond.