New development as US drone delivery plans grounded

February 17, 2015 1:29 pm

It was called the “octocopter” and it promised to fly anything from
concert tickets to toys direct to your door inside half an hour.
But
Amazon’s ambitious plans for delivery by drone have been dealt a blow
thanks to draft legislation that would severely restrict their
commercial use.
The yesterday
released new proposals that would effectively make it illegal for drones
to fly outside the pilot’s line of sight, a move that would
significantly reduce their commercial reach.

Amazon’s plans to deliver by drone have been dealt a blow thanks to
draft US legislation that would severely restrict their commercial use.

It would also
restrict night flights and restrict the ability to fly in densely
populated areas. While the plans are still at draft stage, many
companies fear they would reduce the potential of the technology and
pull the plug on the most ambitious plans such as late-night food
delivery, or dispatching drinks during a sports match or music festival.
For
Amazon the comes as a particular blow. The Seattle-based firm has
been one of the pioneers of the technology with Prime Air, its drone
delivery programme that aims to deliver packages to customers in 30
minutes.

The company has opened a testing facility in and
last year threatened to shift more of its drone testing outside the US
unless it was given more permission to conduct outdoor trials. Paul
Misener, Amazon’s vice-president for global public policy, said the FAA
proposals would not allow the company to go ahead with Prime Air in the
US.
“We are committed to realising our vision for Prime Air and
are prepared to deploy where we have the regulatory support we need,” Mr
Misener said.
The proposals are currently at consultation stage and not expected to be drafted until at least September this year.
The
UK also has strict air regulations determined by the Civil Aviation
Authority which bans the flying of drones over or within 150m of
built-up areas. But the rules surrounding their use are not as close to
the statute books as they seem to be in the US.
A report last
November by the University of Birmingham Policy Commissions stated the
use of drones in the UK will jump in the next 20 years, raising
“significant safety, security, and privacy concerns”.
The
commission called for measures to protect citizens’ privacy, but said
unmanned aircraft could bring “significant” economic benefits.

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