Amazon Hates New Drone Rules

It threatens to shift Prime Air project overseas
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 16, 2015 5:19 AM CST
Amazon Hates New Drone Rules
This image provided by shows the Prime Air unmanned aircraft project it is working on in its research and development labs.    (AP Photo/Amazon)

The new FAA draft regulations for commercial drones include provisions that appear to shoot down Amazon's plans for drone deliveries—and the company is far from happy about it. The FAA, which plans to require drone operators to have the aircraft in sight at all times, needs to "begin and expeditiously complete the formal process to address the needs of our business, and ultimately our customers," an Amazon spokesman tells the Guardian, warning that the company is committed to making its "Prime Air" drone service a reality and if the US doesn't cooperate, Amazon is "prepared to deploy where we have the regulatory support we need." It's not clear whether Amazon will make it good on its threat to move its drone development program from the US, although the Guardian notes that the company has already expanded its research facilities in Britain.

The FAA says it has tried to "maintain today's outstanding level of aviation safety without placing an undue regulatory burden on an emerging industry," but Amazon isn't the only one complaining. The director of the Small UAV Coalition, of which Amazon and Google are members, says requiring an operator to maintain visual contact "defeats the whole purpose" of having unmanned aerial vehicles, reports USA Today. But regardless of whether Amazon takes Prime Air overseas, with the potential to save around $2 on every delivery by using drones, "the company's dance with the FAA on delivery drones is likely far from over," predicts Matt Schievenza at the Atlantic. (For now, Amazon is experimenting with another delivery tool: taxis.)

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