The initial tests for Amazon’s Prime Air drone delivery service could happen as soon as October but don’t expect to see them in your neighborhood. According to the Economic Times, the maiden voyage of the much publicized drones will take place in Mumbai and Bangalore.
In a statement to the Times, Amazon said they do “not comment on what we may or may not do in the future.” But sources say Mumbai and Bangalore have been chosen because Amazon has a warehouse in each city and the deliveries could start as soon as Diwali (October 23). The Directorate General of Civil Aviation claims to have no knowledge of such plan.
Taking the tests overseas should come as no surprise. Last month, Amazon petitioned the FAA for permission to test the Prime Air drones in the U.S. and said if the request was denied, they would take their R&D efforts elsewhere.
The Federal Aviation Administration isn’t exactly known for its prompt responses whereas Amazon has been moving very quickly in developing its drones -which are already in their ninth iteration.
There was some speculation that Amazon could begin tests much closer to home (Canada) but India is a very blank slate regulation-wise.
“India is an attractive test bed for Amazon because the country still hasn’t woken up to the need for rules that will govern the use of unmanned aerial vehicles…Drone operators in India said they don’t obtain permits from DGCA for purposes such as aerial photography, surveying sites and wildlife protection,” said the Times’ report.
The risks of using drones for deliveries in a crowded city are very real regardless of which city is the test bed.
But India has seen several highly publicized drone flights in the last year, including pizza delivery in Mumbai and political banners in Delhi. With a little luck, Amazon will find success and be able to bring Prime Air stateside sometime next year.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com