Amazon in December announced with great fanfare that, after nearly a decade of work, it had finally launched drone delivery in the U.S., in two towns in California and Texas. But by mid-January, Amazon Prime Air had made deliveries to fewer than 10 houses, according to people who worked on the project.
Despite what Amazon has said publicly about regulatory approvals for the drone effort, the Federal Aviation Administration is blocking Amazon’s drones from flying over roads or people without case-by-case permission, according to federal records. That has severely limited the number of homes they can reach in the two towns, Lockeford, Calif., and College Station, Texas. Amazon had asked the FAA to loosen those safety restrictions, but the agency issued a new set of rules late last year that rejected many of the company’s requests.