The first delivery drone has received key approval from U.S. aviation regulators, a major step toward remote delivery services.
Matternet Inc.’s Model M2 is the first drone built for the purpose of carrying packages. The four-rotor drone is able to carry a package up to four pounds.
On Wednesday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) stated that the drone is safe and reliable, a major accomplishment as the company moves toward readying the device for routine commercial operations.
The drone has been granted a type certificate, the first for an unpiloted vehicle. Before the Wednesday announcement, drones had only received restricted approvals.
The FAA has restricted the drone to top speeds of 45 miles per hour and has given it a ceiling of 400 feet.
Why it’s news
Approval from the FAA is a major step forward for automated flying, paving the way for more drone services, including flying taxis.
There are more hurdles before drone delivery can become commonplace. The FAA needs to establish a low-altitude air-traffic system and develop rules and regulations. Approval on the drone, however, hints that the FAA is getting closer to that goal.
Many companies such as Amazon and Alphabet’s Wing have been looking into drone usage for product delivery. When the technology becomes available, drone delivery has the potential to drastically change how customers receive their products.
The FAA requirements won’t just affect package delivery—they could affect travel as well. Aircraft developed by Archer Innovation would give customers in large cities a way around the heavy traffic using electronic planes.
These aircraft would fly at lower heights than traditional planes, meaning they need different requirements from the FAA.
With the FAA developing the technology and regulations needed for the drones, this could also be big news for the future of flying taxis.