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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has "approved the first fully automated commercial drone flights, granting a small Massachusetts-based company permission to operate drones without hands-on piloting or direct observation by human controllers or observers," the Wall Street Journal reports.

While the approval limits drones to altitudes below 400 feet and areas classified as rural, the Journal writes that it "is a potentially significant step in expanding commercial applications of drones for farmers, utilities, mining companies and other customers.

"It also represents another step in the FAA’s broader effort to authorize widespread flights by shifting away from case-by-case exemptions for specific vehicles performing specific tasks … the FAA said that once such automated drone operations are conducted on a wider scale, they could mean 'efficiencies to many of the industries that fuel our economy such as agriculture, mining, transportation' and certain manufacturing segments."

KC's View:

How soon will be be before I get an email from Amazon asking me if I want to be part of a test drone delivery program that will simply require me to put out a small landing flag in my front yard"

Y'think it'll be 2021?  2022?  I'd take the under.