Amazon submitted a petition for exemption to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Tuesday asking if it could start testing drones outside the FAA-designated sites.
The FAA has six designated drone-testing sites across the country, but Amazon wants to run its tests near Seattle, where its private R&D center is located, according to CNET.
Amazon Prime Air was announced in a “60 Minutes” special on CBS last December.
With the exemption, Amazon hopes to speed up the development of its Amazon Prime Air service. But the FAA allows exemptions only if the entity proves the testing is beneficial to the public and does not affect public safety.
In the letter, Amazon writes:
Granting Amazon an exemption to allow R&D testing outdoors in the United States is in the public interest because it advances Congress’s goal of getting commercial sUAS (small unmanned aircraft systems) flying in the United States safely and soon. It is a necessary step towards realising the consumer benefits of Amazon Prime Air and, at this point, Amazon’s continuing innovation in the United States requires the requested exemption for outdoor testing in support of our R&D.
To put it more simply, Paul Misener, Amazon’s VP of Global Public Policy, told CNET, “We want to do more R&D (research and development) close to home.”
The letter also outlines Amazon’s progress in drone development so far. It says they are working on eighth- and ninth-generation drones that travel over 50 miles per hour and can carry 5-pound packages, which cover 86% of all products sold on Amazon. Amazon’s request will go open to the public if it’s processed by the FAA.
“One day, seeing Amazon Prime Air will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today, resulting in enormous benefits for consumers across the nation,” it says.