Amazon's plan to deliver packages using autonomous drones has been sidelined by the Federal Aviation Administration.
As part of a document meant to solicit feedback on their policy as it relates to drones (or model aircraft, as they are referred to in the report), the FAA clearly states that using this type of aircraft to deliver packages to people for a fee is classified as non-hobby and non-recreational use.
A footnote attached to the word fee further defines the FAA's stance. It reads as follows.
If an individual offers free shipping in association with a purchase or other offer, FAA would construe the shipping to be in furtherance of a business purpose, and thus, the operation would not fall within the statutory requirement of recreation or hobby purpose.
In other words, Amazon couldn't use "free" Prime shipping as a loophole to get around the idea of delivering packages for a "fee."
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos first revealed Amazon Prime Air during a segment on CBS News' magazine program 60 Minutes last December. The idea was to utilize octocopter drones to deliver packages weighing up to five pounds directly to your doorstep. He admitted there was still a lot of technical stuff to work out in terms of redundancy, reliability and safety but suggested we could see Prime Air take flight within the next three to five years.
Amazon isn't the only entity that could be affected by the FAA's decision, however. Just days after Amazon's story aired, a spokesperson for UPS said the commercial use of drones is an interesting technology and they will continue to evaluate it.