The company has served fewer than 10 addresses since launching its Amazon Prime Air drone delivery service, according to reports from Information and Business Insider. Amazon does not deny these figures. According to company spokeswoman Maria Boschetti, Amazon is seeking to expand drone deliveries in California and Texas with permission from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Amazon drones cannot fly over roads without the operator's involvement, Information reported. Amazon employees must act as observers in order to cross roads according to FAA regulations.
The FAA does not license autonomous drones to operate drone delivery services. However, the department does make exceptions to strict U.S. airspace regulations, each with a broad list of conditions.
Until last November, Amazon could not launch its drones outside sparsely populated areas of the United States. The company was forbidden to fly over buildings and within 30 meters of them, so the IT-commerce giant only launched drones over its property.
The FAA required that Amazon's drone operators be licensed to operate private aircraft. Each drone flight required up to six people, including observers and ground station operators. In four months, five accidents involving drones occurred at the company's test site in Oregon, one of which caused a fire. Amazon's drone weighs more than 40 pounds.
The authority has limited flights in California and Texas to within 4.8-6.4 kilometers of the drone launch site, which has reduced the number of potential customers. However, Amazon no longer needs that many employees for a single flight, which partially led to layoffs.
The staff reductions do not affect Amazon's plans for Prime Air delivery, Boschetti noted. She promised that the company will expand deliveries to more customers in Lockford, California, and College Station, Texas. Boschetti said the FFA has approved more flights in those communities.
The company launched Prime Air late last December. Amazon continues to develop its next-generation drone, the MK30.