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Remember Amazon Prime Air? The drone delivery service from Amazon, which was the subject of a 60 Minutes news story, has been shut down by the FAA before it ever got the chance to take off. The FAA has taken the stance that such such aircraft may only be flown “for hobby or recreational purposes,” and must be done so “within sight of the operator.”

amazonfullThe grounding of commercial drones not only affects Amazon, but any other company that had planned to use the aircraft to make deliveries or otherwise offer a service. You can find information inside an FAA document that was published online yesterday.

Amazon Prime Air drew a lot of attention for the way it could facilitate quick deliveries of small items. If a customer wanted a book or a video game, for instance, the item could be placed into a box and then picked up by the drone, which would then fly it out and drop it near the customer’s home within hours.

It seems that future won’t find us for a while; instead, we’ll continue to be reliant on UPS, FedEx and the USPS, which are decidedly slower.

The possibility exists that something like Amazon Prime Air could exist in a few years, once the FAA is more comfortable with the idea of drones flying around making deliveries. The aircraft are still a fairly new thing for common folk and businesses to have access to, so the FAA regulations are likely overcompensating at this point to take a “better safe than sorry” approach.

Amazon itself said that getting Prime Air into, well, the air, would take several years and the appropriate regulation. So maybe this isn’t a surprise at all to Amazon. For those of us who wanted those speedy deliveries to happen sooner rather than later, though, the news is kind of a bummer.

What do you think of the FAA’s decision to ground commercial drone use? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

[Source: Ars Technica]


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