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Why can't you get your rewards from paid surveys online by drone?

Amazon Prime Air is ready to change the way America does online product deliveries. Jeff Bezos, the CEO of the online marketplace giant, told the Telegraph recently that, "one day Prime Air deliveries will be as common as seeing a mail truck." But when is that day going to arrive?

Amazon shoppers will have small packages to shipped to their doors within 30 minutes or less, according to the company website. As you're completing your paid surveys at home and redeeming them for Amazon.com Gift Card* claim codes, it's easy to get eager for the future of automated deliveries. So what's exactly is standing in the way of one of the largest companies on Earth?

A little tech trouble
Imagining what are essentially mini helicopters zipping around delivering the country's packages seems more like a science fiction concept than a real life project. Well, if you need any convincing about the capabilities of these tiny flying machines, you may have to see one in action. With the right equipment, they can be incredibly agile and surprisingly swift.

The real trouble is designing the software to make them completely autonomous. For the most part, drones are flown by pilots remotely. That means the operator either watches it as it flies through a live feed or from the ground. What Amazon wants to do is give its drone fleet the ability to fly completely by themselves, dodging obstacles and navigating to locations seamlessly using GPS and sensors.

That means a lot of tech development is necessary to make sure the machines operate safely and effectively. However, Amazon has been testing and building this kind of technology for the past several years now, first by conducting trials and research in Canada and now in the U.S. and the U.K. among other places.

Oddly enough, the tech hurdles aren't the biggest barrier Amazon faces, though.

A lot of red tape
The big obstacle is working with regulators and the Federal Aviation Administration to make autonomous drone flight legal in the country.

"The technical problems are very straight ahead," Bezos told the Telegraph. "The biggest issue, or the biggest thing that needs to be worked on, is the regulatory side."

Current regulations outlined by the FAA spelled big trouble for Amazon's Prime Air program, according to USA Today. Namely, the organization has prohibited drone flights over individuals who are not operating the drone - a rule that would make it near-impossible for the machines to fly in residential areas. Also, the FAA ruled that drones can only be flown by an observer on the ground who maintains eye contact with the aircraft. Clearly, this rule would prohibit both autonomous flight and shipping without a human delivery person present. 

Fortunately, this is simply part of a necessary series of regulatory proceedings that ensure the new tech is safe for all parties. Consumers, bystanders and pilots could all be affected by autonomous drone deliveries, and the FAA is working with Amazon to minimize leeway for accidents. Don't be surprised if your paid survey rewards are delivered by drone in just a few short years.

*Amazon.com is not a sponsor of this program. For complete gift card terms and conditions, see www.amazon.com/gc-legal. ©,®,™ Amazon.com Inc. and/or its affiliates, 2014. No expiration date or service fees.

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