FAA Considers Autonomous Drone Delivery Regulations Amid Rise in Commercial Operations

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Zipline, Flytrex, Alphabet’s Wing subsidiary and other companies have begun launching commercial drone delivery services across the U.S., The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.

San Francisco-based startup Zipline, for instance, uses fixed-wing drones to deliver packages and has authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly its drones provided that each flight operation is monitored remotely or kept in sight.

A spokeswoman for Zipline said the company is working to secure certifications that would allow its unmanned platforms to fly beyond visual line of sight.

In June 2020, Amazon announced that it secured FAA approval to perform tests of its drone delivery systems. The company plans to begin commercial tests in September in Texas and California and intends to run 145 launch stations for such drones and use such vehicles to deliver 500 packages on an annual basis, according to business publication Insider.

A spokeswoman for the FAA said the agency has unveiled plans to facilitate safe autonomous flight operations of drones to support goods delivery.

She noted that FAA announced in February that it would kick off field testing of an air traffic control system for unmanned platforms that fly under 400 feet by the spring of 2022.

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