According to the Wall Street Journal, a computer at Amazon has sent the FAA a formal request for permission to start testing the drones that the company’s Chief Executive Cyborg Jeff Bezos showed off to Charlie Rose back in December.
The company tells the FAA that it is already on the ninth generation of prototypes for the drones, which are intended to carry lightweight (5 lbs. and under) packages short distances from Amazon distribution centers.
Amazon says the current-gen drones travel at speeds in excess of 50 mph.
The company isn’t looking for an exemption to launch the Prime Air service in earnest; just to test it near the company’s Seattle HQ.
The current FAA rules have limited Amazon’s drone testing to indoor spaces and countries that aren’t as worried about the possibility of a sky full of autonomous helicopters carrying parcels that could be dropped like cardboard bombs on unsuspecting humans.
“Amazon would prefer to keep the focus, jobs, and investment of this important research and development initiative in the United States,” says a lifelike executive at the company.
The FAA has begun accepting exemptions for non-hobby use of drones, but the head of the agency’s unmanned-aircraft office has previously stated that these exemptions would be for drones involved in filmmaking, agriculture and inspections of infrastructure and energy plants.
Perhaps Bezos will start renting out Prime Air drones to shoot aerial B-roll footage while they deliver Kindles to customers?