Amazon Says Its Drone Fleet Will Be Ready to Start Deliveries Next Year

A Prime Air drone on the move.

Image from Amazon

In December 2013, Jeff Bezos announced on 60 Minutes that Amazon was working to add drone delivery as an option for customers. “Prime Air” sounded pretty ridiculous at the time, and there are still technological hurdles that make it seem far off, but Amazon insists it’s going to be a reality. Soon.

Reuters reports that at a congressional hearing Wednesday, FAA deputy administrator Michael Whitaker testified about plans for the agency’s drone regulations. He said, “The rule will be in place within a year. … Hopefully before June 17, 2016.” This timeframe is a big improvement over the FAA’s previous estimate from December that the regulations would be ready by 2017 at the earliest.

Amazon has been vocal about its annoyance with the FAA’s leisurely pace. Now that the agency is stepping things up, the company is right there with some big talk. “We’d like to begin delivering to our customers as soon as it’s approved,” said Paul Misener, Amazon’s vice president of global public policy, of the forthcoming regulations. “We will have [the technology] in place by the time any regulations are ready. We are working very quickly.”

Who knows if Amazon will actually be able to make good on this promise from day one at a large scale, but it’s entertaining (and pretty impressive) to watch the company try.