Ireland is taking advantage of the US regulatory snarl to try to attract commercial drone development. The Irish Times reports that County Mayo in Ireland is making plans to market the area as a center for commercial drone development.
Ireland hopes that companies such as Amazon, Google, and Facebook who want to test commercial drone applications like drone delivery will find Ireland a willing partner and a perfect testing ground. County Mayo commissioned a consulting team to explore the possibility of marketing the area as a testing area: the “Drones Over Mayo” report noted that the region has a “short window” to jump into the race to become
a center for drone technology.
“Global technology companies such as Google, Amazon and Facebook have taken a clear interest in drone technology,” says the Drones Over Mayo report. “These companies are interested in drones to facilitate mass communications in regions that remain ‘offline’ and deliver e-commerce purchases to customers via drone. Attracting high-tech companies to Co Mayo is key to creating the jobs of the future.” The Irish Times obtained a copy of the report under Ireland’s Freedom of Information Act.
Specifically referencing drone delivery companies as a target, the report notes that County Mayo could be an attractive center for drone development due to its wide open spaces and mild climate. More importantly, the report notes Ireland’s determination to make their regulatory climate favorable to technology companies: “defined by the Irish Aviation Authority’s commitment to safety but willingness to engage constructively with industry.” and plans to offer tax incentives for multi-national companies.
While Amazon has invested heavily in lobbying the US government for more progressive drone legislation, and was granted permission to test the Prime Air delivery drone under 400ft and at a maximum speed of 100mph., current restrictions against beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) and flying at night will not allow for implementation of drone delivery. While those regulations have been addressed in the current Senate proposal for FAA Reauthorization, the FAA and Congress have proven slow to get new rules enacted. “Ireland, and Mayo, could step in to fill this regulatory gap,” says the Irish Times.
The report took some content from the Drones Data X Conference, held last November in County Mayo.
“Most interviewees saw huge potential in Mayo,” says the report, pointing out Ireland’s “willingness from government to work constructively with foreign companies to create employment”.
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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