Chinese Internet-based retail giant Alibaba has taken the lead in using flying drones for delivery of goods.
According to the company’s blog, for three days this week starting Wednesday, Alibaba will use small, remote-controlled quadcopters to deliver orders of ginger tea to 450 shoppers in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
The packets will be limited to about 340 grams, taken to distances up to one hour of flight time away.
Previously, several U.S. and at least one Chinese company have tested drone deliveries, but all of them had limited scope due to lack of regulations for drone operations in both countries.
Both Chinese and U.S. retailers are calling on their respective regulating agencies to speed up the approvals of drone flights for delivery of goods.
The agency that regulates U.S. air space, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), recently issued eight more licenses to drone operators while several hundred requests are still waiting for approval.
Among other restrictions, commercial drone pilots must have at least a private pilot's license and a medical certificate, while the drone must remain within the pilot's vision during the entire flight.