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Amazon and the Battle for Delivery Drones

Amazon is out of luck when it comes to delivering packages by unmanned drones, at least for now. Ars Technica reported on Tuesday that the FAA is prohibiting Amazon Prime Air drones:

“In Monday’s (FAA) announcement, published in the Federal Register, the FAA named Amazon’s December proposal as an example of what is barred under regulations that allow the use of drones for hobby and recreational purposes. The agency did not mention Amazon Prime Air by name, but it didn’t have to.”

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos revealed the marketplace had developed delivery drones in a dramatic episode of TV program 60 Minutes that aired in December. Some believed it was a publicity stunt.

However, Amazon has hired a Washington firm to lobby for the drones. Politicoreported last week that Amazon had hired Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld to work on “federal advocacy with regard to testing and operation of (unmanned aerial vehicles) in the US,” citing a new lobbying registration.

Bezos called the drones, which run on electric motors, green – “it’s better than driving trucks around,” he told 60 Minutes. The octocopter drones, called Prime Air, can carry items weighing up to 5 pounds, which covers 86% of items Amazon delivers. The current generation Octocopter can fly within a 10-mile radius of a fulfillment center.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.