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Amazon gets FAA approval to expand drone deliveries in the U.S.

Amazon announced Thursday that it has received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to use its drones to make deliveries over longer distances, saying it can now expand its Prime Air service, which uses delivery drones to deliver individual packages, to more customers.

The Federal Aviation Administration requires operators to maintain visual line of sight of drones until it approves technology that can safely monitor and control drones without vision. Amazon said it spent years developing beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) technology for its drones to ensure they can detect and avoid aerial obstacles.

The company demonstrated the technology to Federal Aviation Administration inspectors to prove that its drones can safely avoid airplanes, helicopters and hot air balloons.

Last December, Alphabet’s Wing received a waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) allowing its drones to fly beyond visual line of sight.

Amazon said in a press release that the approval enables it to “serve more customers via drones and expand and scale efficiently.” [its] Amazon will expand its drone delivery business first in College Station, Texas, to cover customers in more densely populated areas. The company also plans to integrate drone deliveries into its same-day delivery network later this year.

Amazon has said it needs approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to achieve its goal of delivering 500 million packages a year using drones by the end of the decade.

A month ago, Amazon confirmed that it would stop using Prime Air drone deliveries in Rockford, California. The town was the company’s second drone delivery location in the U.S. after College Station. Amazon did not elaborate on the reason for stopping drone deliveries in the area, but announced that drone deliveries would begin in Tolleson, Arizona later this year.

Amazon isn’t the only tech company operating drone deliveries, Walmart launched its Wing drone delivery service to some supermarkets last year. Other companies working with Wing for drone deliveries include Walgreens and DoorDash.

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