Amazon has filed for permission to run tests on experimental wireless communications technology, which could be related to an expansion of the company’s drone-based delivery service Prime Air. The project has been unveiled due to documentation that was made public last week.
Tests will take place at Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle, before moving on to its customer service facility in Kennewick, Washington, according to a report from Business Insider. Each location will be temporarily fitted with three low-band, fixed-base transmitters that can communicate with a fleet of mobile units.
Amazon told the Federal Communications Commission that its base stations will only transmit for an average of five minutes per hour, per day, per week on any particular channel or band. Furthermore, any of the mobile units that don’t conform to FCC regulations will be recovered and retrieved by the company once testing is complete.
There is speculation this project is related to Prime Air, largely because Neil Woodward is listed as the primary contact on documents submitted to the FCC. Woodward is a retired astronaut who has been with Amazon since 2008 and currently acts as the senior manager for its drone delivery services.
If the tests are related to Prime Air, they will demonstrate how serious Amazon is about implementing drone delivery on a large scale. This kind of technology could revolutionize the way the company handles deliveries — but the retailer won’t gain permission to roll out its own fleet of drones without demonstrating exactly how they will operate beforehand.
Whatever its focus, this project certainly seems to be a long-term concern. Amazon states in the documents filed last week that it expects to spend five months carrying out the research and tests aren’t scheduled to get underway until early 2018 — assuming that the company is given permission.