The ecommerce giant Amazon has formally asked the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) whether it can carry out tests on drones it one day hopes to use in delivering packages to customers.
Footage of Amazon Prime Air drones in flight emerged last year but was widely dismissed as little more than a PR stunt by the company.
However, it now appears that Amazon is more serious than many people believed about turning drone technologies into functioning elements of its delivery services.
In order to grant permission for Amazon to test fly its drones in the US the FAA would need to make an exception to its current restrictions on commercial airborne activities.
"Because Amazon is a commercial enterprise we have been limited to conducting R&D flights indoors or in other countries," the company said.
But Amazon said it hopes to "keep the focus, jobs, and investment of this important research and development initiative in the United States".