Remember Amazon's audacious plan to deliver packages using drones?
It looks like Amazon's fleet of robot aircraft has been grounded – at least temporarily – thanks to the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) of America.
An FAA document (PDF) revealed on Monday is seeking public comment on drones, though the agency calls them "model aircraft." At present, commercial operation of drones is considered illegal by the FAA – but a federal judge said that the FAA needed public input before unilaterally declaring such regulations.
The FAA has since promised that it will re-examine commercial applications of drones.
Attack on the drones
The FAA is still making it tricky for anyone using a drone without proper permission, with a list of activities that are banned under its current regulations including "delivering of packages to people for a fee." Which rather puts the kibosh on Amazon's plans for drone deliveries.
Free deliveries are also banned by the FAA, with a footnote reading: "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."
Amazon has since declared that its drone directives were still not quite ready for prime time; the company is likely waiting on the FAA to relax its drone requirements. The agency is expected to publish new rules on drones in 2015, in response to their explosion in popularity; currently, only amateur hobbyists and people with a Certificate of Authority from the FAA are allowed to fly them.
With even Facebook getting in on the drone game, it isn't surprising that federal regulators are looking long and hard at the implications. In the meantime, postmen everywhere can hold on to their jobs a while longer.