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Amazon’s Delivery Drones Served Fewer Than 10 Houses

About a month after Amazon Prime Air made its first deliveries to California and Texas, it has served fewer than 10 households , and has already laid off more than half of the employees in those locations.

And there may be a very good reason why Amazon doesn’t have many drone delivery customers yet, as The Information points out: an Amazon drone can’t fly over roads on its own.

“To cross the road while still abiding by FAA rules, Amazon employees had to act as spotters to make sure no vehicles were coming when the drone needed to fly across the street, a plan the FAA approved.”

According to federal records, despite Amazon having publicly announced regulatory approval for drones, the Federal Aviation Administration is blocking Amazon drones from flying over roads or people without special permission.  This severely limited the number of homes they could go to in two cities: Lockford, California and College Station, Texas. Amazon asked the FAA to relax those security restrictions, but the agency released a new set of rules late last year that denied many of the company’s requests.

We meet or exceed all safety standards and have obtained regulatory authorization to conduct commercial drone delivery operations,” Amazon spokesperson Maria Boschetti told The Information. “We welcome the FAA’s rigorous evaluations of our operation, and we’ll continue to champion the significant role that regulators play to ensure all drone companies are achieving the right design, build and operating standards.”

Boschetti added that the Prime Air layoffs, which reportedly cut the size of delivery teams at both locations by more than half, did not affect Amazon’s test site plans.

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