Amazon on Thursday got regulatory approval to experiment with drones that it hopes will one day deliver packages to people’s doorsteps.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an experimental pass to the online shopping giant to use for development, training and development of its drones, it said.
The company will be limited to flights that stay under 400 feet, within sight of the pilot and during daylight hours. It will also have to hand over data to the FAA each month about the test flights it takes and any problems it encounters along the way.
Still, the regulatory move is the first step toward the company’s dream of one day deploying drones across the sky to deliver people’s goods.
Amazon has outlined big plans for its drone plans, which it has had under development since 2013.
One day, it predicted in a formal petition filed with the FAA last summer, the machines will be able to deliver goods to people’s homes in 30 minutes or less. Drones — formally known as unmanned aerial systems — “will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today,” it added.
While businesses are largely prohibited from using drones today, the FAA released draft regulations earlier this year to begin to allow the machines to take over the skies. That proposal would impose a number of restrictions on the companies, however, and would seem to ban operations like the one Amazon has in mind.