Amazon Seeks Exemption to FAA’s Commercial Drone Restrictions

by Matt Klassen on July 15, 2014

Soon the friendly skies above North America will be a lot more crowded, at least if Amazon gets its way. According to reports the e-commerce giant is petitioning the Federal Aviation Administration for exemption to the current rules regarding commercial drone flights, as the company is hoping to begin advanced real world testing for its next generation drone delivery service.

The service, already called Prime Air, is well under way at Amazon, the online shopping company boasting that its branded unmanned drones are able to deliver parcels to consumers in 30 minutes; a fact, if true, that would give Amazon yet another distinct competitive advantage over other online retailers as well as boosting the convenience and speed of online retailing, taking a bite out of that pesky time-threshold advantage that traditional brick and mortar retail locations still hold over their online counterparts.

But like with any bureaucratic entity the wheels of change turn slowly, as the FAA has come under criticism of late for its agonizingly slow pace of development when it comes to drones, a fact that Amazon and other companies fear may actually retard the growth of this burgeoning robotics industry.

Amazon’s vision of the future is certainly not small, as the company sees a time when unmanned drones and other such robotics will become an integral and normal part of our every day existence. “One day, seeing Amazon Prime Air will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today, resulting in enormous benefits for consumers across the nation,” an Amazon spokesperson said.

The reason for the exemption, the company explained, is so that Amazon can enter the next phase of development, real world testing, in preparation for a time when antiquated aviation law finally provides the framework necessary to roll out this service on a larger scale. Simply put, while drone delivery service is likely still several years away, when the FAA does finally open the door to such unmanned projects Amazon wants to be ready and waiting, giving it yet another leg up on its competition.

The FAA’s reticence towards opening up the skies for commercial drone traffic is understandable; there are simply too many variables in having millions of unmanned aircraft clogging up the airways. The FAA is responsible for keeping the skies safe, and one can imagine the fallout the first time a drone is responsible for some sort of air disaster.

But that said, Amazon stands at the ready for the day restrictions on commercial drone traffic are lifted, poised to immediately jump into top spot when it comes to drone application in online retail. In fact, the only question left unanswered about the future of commercial drones is who will come second in this race, as right now there don’t seem to be many serious contenders working on similar technology, at least not that we know of.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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