Paul Misener, Vice President for Global Public Policy at Amazon, says that the red tape surrounding drone delivery in the US is more of a challenge than the technology. In an interview with Yahoo News, Misener explained the concept of 30 minute drone delivery and the sense and avoid technology that its delivery drones have to offer, saying: “[It’s] actually not as difficult as you might think. The automation technologies already exist. We’re making sure that it works, and we have to get to a point where we can demonstrate that this operates safely.”
When asked if the red tape or the technological problems were harder to solve, Misener responded that the regulatory issues were “difficult,” although Amazon hopes that the regulations will follow demonstrations of the technology.
Misener outlined the airspace traffic design that Amazon has proposed to the FAA as a way of separating drones from manned aircraft. The proposal calls for designating spaces for classes of aircraft: manned aircraft above 500 feet; a no-fly safety buffer between 400 and 500 feet ; and a “transit zone” between 200 and 400 feet where drones could fly horizontally at high speeds. The space below 200 feet would be limited to certain operations such as photography or takeoff and landing operations.
While seemingly anxious not to offend the FAA, the Amazon representative acknowledged that regulators have not agreed with the retail giant’s proposal, saying: “In deference to the FAA, or in sympathy with the FAA, it turns out that they have a limited ability to regulate amateur drones, but they have full powers to regulate commercial drones. ..that imbalance doesn’t make sense.
We believe that they must begin, in earnest, planning for the rules that are more sophisticated, that go to the kinds of operations that Amazon Prime Air will encompass. And other countries already are doing this.”
When asked what would happen if the regulations do not catch up with the technology to allow for drone delivery, Misener was blunt about taking the program elsewhere: “Well, we have customers all around the world, of course. There’s no reason why the United States must be first. We hope it is.”
Misener insists that drone delivery is a reality, saying that Amazon has beefed up its team and is moving ahead full speed on developing the program. “I’ve seen it,” he said. “It’s gonna happen. It’s coming.”
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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