INTERNATIONAL NEWS - Amazon on Monday said a freshly-issued Federal Aviation Administration certificate has cleared the launch pad for drone deliveries in the US.
The Seattle-based e-commerce colossus has been developing drones as part of its massive investment in a logistics network to quickly deliver purchases to customers.
"This certification is an important step forward for Prime Air and indicates the FAA's confidence in Amazon's operating and safety procedures for an autonomous drone delivery service that will one day deliver packages to our customers around the world," Amazon vice president David Carbon said in reply to an AFP inquiry.
"We will continue to develop and refine our technology to fully integrate delivery drones into the airspace, and work closely with the FAA and other regulators around the world to realize our vision of 30 minute delivery."
Amazon planned to use the certification to test using fully-electric drones to deliver items to customers. Evidence that drone operations are safe was required to get the certification.
Package delivery giant UPS late last year obtained US regulatory approval to operate a "drone airline" and planned to expand its airborne operations in healthcare and other sectors.
UPS said at the time that it received full certification from the FAA, allowing it to fly an unlimited number of drones with an unlimited number of remote operators.
A variety of companies ranging from new startups to major tech firms such as Google-parent Alphabet are working on autonomous drone delivery.
Last year, Alphabet's drone project Wing was certified as an air carrier by the FAA, clearing the regulatory path for it to make delivers to buyers.
The Wing team completed its first real-world deliveries in 2014 in rural Australia where they successfully transported first-aid supplies, candy bars, dog treats, and water to farmers, according to the company's website.
Two years after that, Wing drones were used to deliver burritos to students at a university in Virginia.