Delivery by drone in 30 minutes? Amazon says it's coming

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
Amazon Allowed to Carry Out Delivery Drone Tests
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Borrowing a pizza delivery motto, online retail giant Amazon told Congress Wednesday it is developing the technology to use drones to deliver packages in 30 minutes or less, a broad expansion of unmanned flight that is raising concerns about safety, security and privacy.

Using commercial drones to quickly deliver packages is probably years away. But when government regulations catch up with emerging technologies, it could revolutionize the way people shop for items they need quickly, said Paul E. Misener, vice president of global public policy for Amazon.com.

"If a consumer wants a small item quickly, instead of driving to go shopping or causing delivery automobiles to come to her home or office, a small, electrically-powered (drone) vehicle will make the trip faster and more efficiently and cleanly," Misener told the House Oversight Committee.

The Federal Aviation Administration proposed rules in February that would severely restrict the use of commercial drones. The House panel held a hearing Wednesday on their economic potential as well as concerns about safety and privacy.

FAA's proposed rules would require operators to keep commercial drones within eyesight at all times, which significantly limits the distance they can fly. The restriction probably would prevent drone delivery as proposed by Amazon.

50 PHOTOS
Drones in the news
See Gallery
Delivery by drone in 30 minutes? Amazon says it's coming
Sgt. Jim Linn retrieves the Alameda County Sheriff's Office drone while demonstrating a search and rescue operation on Friday, Aug. 14, 2015, in Dublin, Calif. As law enforcement joins the ranks of hobbyists sending drones into California skies, civil liberties advocates are raising the specter of unchecked police surveillance and state lawmakers are drafting limits. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
KILIS, TURKEY - OCTOBER 16: An aircraft is seen after it was downed by Turkish jets in Turkey's southern Kilis province, bordering with Syria on October 16, 2015. Turkish jets on Friday downed an unidentified aircraft near Syria border after it violated Turkish air space, the Turkish military said. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A DPD Geopost prototype drone files carrying a parcel flies during a test flight in Pourrieres, southern France, June 23, 2015. GeoPost, a package delivery subsidiary of LaPoste, is set to launch a programme which will see parcels delivered by drones. The GeoDrone completed its first successful automated flight last September. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
PARIS, FRANCE - APRIL 08: An Eagle owl (Hibou Grand Duc) fromf Tamer Jean-Philippe Varin who presents an animal documetary filmed by a drone during the 'Vivement Dimanche' French TV Show at Pavillon Gabriel on April 8, 2015 in Paris, France. (Photo by Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty Images)
A drone flies in foreground of a partial solar eclipse in Vienna on March 20, 2015. AFP PHOTO / JOE KLAMAR (Photo credit should read JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Visitors to the China Hobby Expo watch a drone controlled by a mobile phone fly in Beijing Friday, April 24, 2015. Unmanned and remote-controlled aerial vehicles are gaining in popularity as prices drop and capabilities grow. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
A drone is pictured in flight in Lille, northern France, on April 10, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE HUGUEN (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Malou Tech pilot Philippe Dardini controls a drone Interceptor MP200 after it caught a DJI Phantom 2 drone with a net during a demonstration flight in La Queue-en-Brie, east of Paris, France, Monday, Feb. 9, 2015. For months, France has faced dozens of drone overflights over sensitive sites, mostly nuclear facilities, a worrisome development in a country that gets the highest percentage of its energy in the world from atomic power. France wants to monitor and detect intruding drones and their remote-control pilots; analyze and track their flight paths; and ultimately neutralize the drones, either temporarily or permanently, with the least collateral damage possible. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
A drone Interceptor MP200, top, catches a drone DJI Phantom 2 with a net during a demonstration flight in La Queue-en-Brie, east of Paris, France, Monday, Feb. 9, 2015. For months, France has faced dozens of drone overflights over sensitive sites, mostly nuclear facilities, a worrisome development in a country that gets the highest percentage of its energy in the world from atomic power. France wants to monitor and detect intruding drones and their remote-control pilots; analyze and track their flight paths; and ultimately neutralize the drones, either temporarily or permanently, with the least collateral damage possible. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
A drone Interceptor MP200, top, prepares to catch a drone DJI Phantom 2 with a net during a demonstration flight in La Queue-en-Brie, east of Paris, France, Monday, Feb. 9, 2015. For months, France has faced dozens of drone overflights over sensitive sites, mostly nuclear facilities, a worrisome development in a country that gets the highest percentage of its energy in the world from atomic power. France wants to monitor and detect intruding drones and their remote-control pilots; analyze and track their flight paths; and ultimately neutralize the drones, either temporarily or permanently, with the least collateral damage possible. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
French company Malou Tech CEO Philippe Dubus displays a drone DJI Phantom 2 during a demonstration flight in La Queue-en-Brie, east of Paris, France, Monday, Feb. 9, 2015. For months, France has faced dozens of drone overflights over sensitive sites, mostly nuclear facilities, a worrisome development in a country that gets the highest percentage of its energy in the world from atomic power. France wants to monitor and detect intruding drones and their remote-control pilots; analyze and track their flight paths; and ultimately neutralize the drones,either temporarily or permanently, with the least collateral damage possible. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
French company Malou Tech pilot Philippe Dardini controls an "Army" speed drone mounted with a Go pro Hero3 during a demonstration flight in La Queue-en-Brie, east of Paris, France, Monday, Feb. 9, 2015. For months, France has faced dozens of drone overflights over sensitive sites — mostly nuclear facilities, a worrisome development in a country that gets the highest percentage of its energy in the world from atomic power. France wants to monitor and detect intruding drones and their remote-control pilots; analyze and track their flight paths; and ultimately neutralize the drones — either temporarily or permanently — with the least collateral damage possible. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
French company Malou Tech's "Army" speed drone mounted with a Go pro Hero3 during a demonstration flight in La Queue-en-Brie, east of Paris, France, Monday, Feb. 9, 2015. For months, France has faced dozens of drone overflights over sensitive sites — mostly nuclear facilities, a worrisome development in a country that gets the highest percentage of its energy in the world from atomic power. France wants to monitor and detect intruding drones and their remote-control pilots; analyze and track their flight paths; and ultimately neutralize the drones — either temporarily or permanently — with the least collateral damage possible. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
French company Malou Tech pilot Philippe Dardini prepares a drone Interceptor MP200 during a demonstration flight in La Queue-en-Brie, east of Paris, France, Monday, Feb. 9, 2015. For months, France has faced dozens of drone overflights over sensitive sites — mostly nuclear facilities, a worrisome development in a country that gets the highest percentage of its energy in the world from atomic power. France wants to monitor and detect intruding drones and their remote-control pilots; analyze and track their flight paths; and ultimately neutralize the drones — either temporarily or permanently — with the least collateral damage possible. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
French company Malou Tech CEO Philippe Dubus, right, and pilot Philippe Dardini display a drone Interceptor MP200, left, after it caught a drone DJI Phantom 2 with a net during a demonstration flight in La Queue-en-Brie, east of Paris, France, Monday, Feb. 9, 2015. For months, France has faced dozens of drone overflights over sensitive sites — mostly nuclear facilities, a worrisome development in a country that gets the highest percentage of its energy in the world from atomic power. France wants to monitor and detect intruding drones and their remote-control pilots; analyze and track their flight paths; and ultimately neutralize the drones — either temporarily or permanently — with the least collateral damage possible. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
The new Bebop Parrot drone is displayed during a presentation to the press in Paris, France, Friday, Nov. 7, 2014. The new Parrot Bebop drone, quadcopter type drone with a fish eye camera benefits from an exclusive 3-axes image stabilization system that maintains a fixed angle of the view, regardless of the inclination of the drone and its movements caused by wind turbulence. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
The new Bebop Parrot drone flies by a Rome marble statue "August en Triomphateur" during a presentation to the press in Paris, France, Friday, Nov. 7, 2014. The new Parrot Bebop drone, a quadcopter type drone with a fish eye camera benefits from an exclusive 3-axes image stabilization system that maintains a fixed angle of the view, regardless of the inclination of the drone and its movements caused by wind turbulence. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
The new Bebop Parrot drone flies front of a Rome marble statue "August en Triomphateur" during a presentation to the press in Paris, France, Friday, Nov. 7, 2014. The new Parrot Bebop drone, a quadcopter type drone with a fish eye camera benefits from an exclusive 3-axes image stabilization system that maintains a fixed angle of the view, regardless of the inclination of the drone and its movements caused by wind turbulence. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
The Federal Aviation Administration's proposed commercial drone rules could expand drone use in agriculture, filming and other ventures.
A drone camera follows Norway's Aleksander Aurdal during the men's ski slopestyle final at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
The Federal Aviation Administration took an important step Sunday toward legalizing and regulating routine use of commercial drones -- though don't expect a delivery drone to bring you a fresh pizza anytime soon.The agency released its proposed requirements for unmanned commercial aircraft, saying the drones must weigh less than 55 pounds and be operated in daylight within the line-of-sight of the drone's operator.
Parrot CEO Henri Seydoux flies a Parrot Bebop drone using the Skycontroller while wearing an Oculus headset during a demonstration at a Parrot event in San Francisco, Thursday, May 8, 2014. The Parrot Bebop drone, which has a 14-megapixel fish-eye camera lens and battery life of about 12 minutes flying time, is scheduled to be released later this year. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
While thousands of techies, journalists, and more are descending upon Las Vegas for CES this week, we escaped the madness for a bit on Monday, traveling about an hour outside the city to the Clark County Shooting Range. But we weren’t there to shoot guns or weapons; we had come to participate in what was dubbed the “drone rodeo.”
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY REGINE LAMOTHE An engineer performs a demonstration of a drone used to previsualize camera effects on November 22, 2012, during the inauguration of the French technology Technicolor research and development, in Cesson-Sevigne, near the western city of Rennes. Technicolor, which rose from the ashes of French Thomson electronics group, is becoming the world specialist for cinema post-production. AFP PHOTO FRANK PERRY (Photo credit should read FRANK PERRY/AFP/Getty Images)
This week on Drone Zone: Why Lisa Ellman is the woman shaping U.S. drone policy, who really owns your drone and how well birds are sharing the skies with drones.
Drone flying around in Moos ( Zugspitz Arena)
Drone
A SteadiDrone QU4D aerial drone fitted with a GoPro video camera hovers in a field in Knysa, South Africa, on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014. The number of civilian unmanned aircraft will reach 175,000 by 2035, most of them smaller models, a report by the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Volpe National Transportation Systems Center found. Photographer: Dean Hutton/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A flying drone with a camera hanging from it flies over PNC Park during the baseball game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the New York Mets on Thursday, June 26, 2014, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Three drones at grass. From left; X8, Octo, X8.
Drone
Drone and Moon
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 14: A drone is seen outside the Alexander Wang show on February 14, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 08: An RC EYE One Xtreme drone from RC Logger is displayed at the 2015 International CES at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 8, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. CES, the world's largest annual consumer technology trade show, runs through January 9 and is expected to feature 3,600 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to about 150,000 attendees. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 08: Parrot MiniDrones fly at the 2015 International CES at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 8, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. CES, the world's largest annual consumer technology trade show, runs through January 9 and is expected to feature 3,600 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to about 150,000 attendees. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
A man flying a camera equipped radio controlled quadcopter drone
Man preparing for a drone flight. Texas.1-2015
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 08: An RC EYE Twist 300 drone from RC Logger is displayed at the 2015 International CES at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 8, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. CES, the world's largest annual consumer technology trade show, runs through January 9 and is expected to feature 3,600 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to about 150,000 attendees. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 08: An RC EYE One Xtreme drone from RC Logger is displayed at the 2015 International CES at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 8, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. CES, the world's largest annual consumer technology trade show, runs through January 9 and is expected to feature 3,600 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to about 150,000 attendees. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 08: An RC EYE Navigator 250 drone from RC Logger is displayed at the 2015 International CES at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 8, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. CES, the world's largest annual consumer technology trade show, runs through January 9 and is expected to feature 3,600 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to about 150,000 attendees. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 08: An attendee looks at an RC EYE Navigator 250 drone from RC Logger at the 2015 International CES at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 8, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. CES, the world's largest annual consumer technology trade show, runs through January 9 and is expected to feature 3,600 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to about 150,000 attendees. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 08: A FlyHawk drone by Eken is displayed at the 2015 International CES at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 8, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The drone has a 1080p HD, 140-degree wide-angle camera and a return-to-pilot feature that allows the unit to return to wherever the operator goes using GPS. CES, the world's largest annual consumer technology trade show, runs through January 9 and is expected to feature 3,600 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to about 150,000 attendees. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
A DJI Inspire 1 drone, manufactured by SZ DJI Technology Co., is flown during the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015. This year's CES will be packed with a wide array of gadgets such as drones,connected cars, a range of smart home technology designed to make everyday life more convenient and quantum dot televisions, which promise better color and lower electricity use in giant screens. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

FAA Deputy Administrator Michael Whitaker said more research is needed before the government allows their widespread use.

"We are working diligently to develop a regulatory framework that will allow for innovation while ensuring the safety of other users of the airspace and people and property on the ground," Whitaker told the committee.

The rules should be finalized within a year, Whitaker said.

Misener urged Congress and the FAA to speed up the rules and to reconsider some of the restrictions for commercial drones. He said the technology exists to safely operate commercial drones well beyond the eyesight of the operator.

Misener said Amazon does not yet have the logistical capability to receive and process orders, and then deliver packages by drone within a half hour. But, he added, "We will have it by the time the regulations are ready."

Lawmakers marveled at the possible uses for commercial drones while at the same time voicing concerns about having hundreds or thousands of unmanned aircraft buzzing the skies over crowded cities and private homes.

The FAA receives about 25 reports a month from pilots and others of drones flying in the vicinity of planes and airports, raising concerns about the potential for collisions. A drone flown by an off-duty intelligence employee crashed on the grounds of the White House in January, highlighting how easy it is for a small, unmanned aircraft to navigate some of the most restricted airspace in the world.

Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., said it's only a matter of time before one collides with a passenger airliner.

"There will be an incident. There will be a crash. There will be probably fatalities because you have so many of these things flying," Mica said. "I hope it doesn't take down a big commercial aircraft. I hope it doesn't have a lot of fatalities but I think it's inevitable."

The FAA currently bans commercial drone flights except for a few dozen companies that have been granted waivers. That ban will stay in place until regulations become final, but FAA officials plan to continue granting waivers case by case.

The vast majority of drones being flown today are operated by recreational users, Whitaker said. FAA regulations permit recreational users to fly small drones as long as they stay at least 5 miles away from an airport, limit flights to less than 400 feet in altitude, keep the aircraft in line of sight and fly only during the daytime.

"Drones are an exciting new technology with a lot of potential uses in the not-so-distant future," said Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee. "As with any new, groundbreaking technology, our regulatory regime has not yet fully caught up with drones, and existing rules do not fully address the concerns Americans have."

---

Follow Stephen Ohlemacher on Twitter: http://twitter.com/stephenatap

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners