Suck It, FAA: Amazon Drone Tests Move North

Prime Air experiments carried out feet from US border in BC
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 31, 2015 1:10 PM CDT
Suck It, FAA: Amazon Drone Tests Move North
This undated image provided by shows the so-called Prime Air unmanned aircraft project that Amazon is working on in its research and development labs.   (AP Photo/Amazon)

Amazon has followed up on its threat to deploy drones outside of the US after new rules dampened its dream of drone deliveries. Though the company was just granted an FAA certificate allowing it to carry out certain tests for Prime Air, the Guardian reports Amazon moved its drone operations north to a secret location in Canada months ago and has been testing various drone capabilities, including sensors that detect obstacles and stability in wind. Experts in robotics, software engineering, and aeronautics are "conducting frequent experimental flights with the full blessing of the Canadian government" on "a plot of open land lined by oak trees and firs" just 2,000 feet from the US border in British Columbia, the Guardian reports. Amazon underwent a licensing process and after just three weeks was given virtually unrestricted approval to fly drones within its own airspace.

Meanwhile, the FAA can take months to give its approval even after a company undergoes a complicated process that includes a four-hour presentation at FAA headquarters. The FAA, which requires drones to be flown within an operator's sight, says it deals with complex airspace and the process focuses on safety risks. But Amazon says that doesn't explain why Europe, also a busy area for aircraft, has such lax rules by comparison. Amazon's foray into Canada should be a "serious wake-up call to politicians and regulators," says a US expert in drone law. "America has led the world in aviation development, but for the first time in history we are at risk of losing out." The head of Prime Air, Gur Kimchi, says the Canadian tests will help shape drones that are unique and will "build a very different world" that's "faster, and safer, and more economic and more environmentally friendly." (Read more stories.)

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