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Amazon has officially requested that the FAA allow the company to test drone-based package delivery in its own backyard. In a letter published at, Amazon described the state of the program and asked regulators to grant the Internet retailer an exemption to drone-testing rules, which restrict flights to six official staging areas throughout the country.

"We are rapidly experimenting and iterating on Prime Air inside our next generation research and development lab in Seattle," reads the letter, which reveals the drones have been through eight generations of development and can now carry 5-pound loads at over 50 miles per hour. But FAA regulations prohibit outdoor flights by commercial enterprises like Amazon, and testing inside isn't ideal. "Granting this request will do nothing more than allow Amazon to do what thousands of hobbyists and manufacturers of model aircraft do every day," the letter continues. If the request is granted, outdoor flights and potentially a pilot program would take place in the Seattle area.

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— Devin Coldewey, NBC News