The FAA just moved drone deliveries one step closer to your front door

New regulations make it easier and safer for drones to do business in the sky, but privacy concerns abound.


January 6, 2021

Remember that 2013 video of a Prime Air drone casually delivering something from a fulfillment center to a home? Well, we’re now much closer to that reality.

For years, the FAA has been (kind of reasonably) concerned about an unhinged swarm of 1.7m+ drones crowding the skies.

To deal with it, the federal agency is embracing an upward trend in commercial drone registrations and issuing new regulations.

The rules require drones to publicly broadcast their location…

… with a digital license plate.

At present, only 3 companies — UPS, Amazon, and Wing — have regulatory approval to operate nationwide drone fleets and do business in the sky.

The FAA’s new rules will allow devices — classified into 4 tiers (from lightweight devices with no exposed propellers to advanced craft that would go through the same vetting as traditional aircraft) — to fly over populated areas.

Alphabet’s drone subsidiary Wing released a legal diss track

In a classic case of “a kettle calling a pot black,” Wing argues the new FAA rules invade user privacy (by allowing geo-tracking) and — instead — proposes:

  • An automated transit network much like its own OpenSky product
  • A “license plate” solution that identifies drones as they fly over spaces but protects information like flight paths

The FAA could change its mind in Wing’s favor, but the rules will take a couple years to go into effect either way.

So we’re telling you now: The buzzing you’ll hear outside in 2023 is drones. You are not going crazy.

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