Amazon Seeks Consistent Drone Regulations

Amazon Seeks Consistent Drone Regulations

Speaking at a panel discussion on drone usage at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, an Amazon executive in charge of the company’s drone program said he sees some real problems in the near future.

Paul Misener, Amazon’s vice president of global innovation policy, says there are really two key hurdles to having a world-wide drone program which his company calls “Amazon Prime Air”. The first is a series of bills and regulations many states are debating about drone use for commercial delivery. Misener believes if each state has a different drone law, it will create an inconsistency that could take the Amazon Prime Air project off track. “Where it would be a problem is if Texas had a rule that Arkansas didn’t,” Misener told the crowd at the CES. “Or if Belgium had a rule that France didn’t.” Those inconsistent regulations would make it nearly impossible for Amazon to use drones to deliver packages across state lines. “Here in the U.S., we have seen a proliferation of state bills that could affect the ability of larger enterprises to conduct business across state borders,” Misener pointed out. “And that makes no sense at all. For states to step in at this point would be a real problem.”

Misener believes the Federal Aviation Administration should be the only organization in charge of drone regulations, not states. A senior member of the FAA, Marke Gibson, was also on the panel at the Consumer Electronics Show event. Gibson told the audience that a drone symposium hosted by the FAA is scheduled for March, but, “security is becoming more of a conversation now.”

Misener’s second key hurdle to using drones for commercial use and delivery is how the FAA can begin working out an air traffic management program designed for drones. Misener believes it needs to be done. During the panel discussion, the Gibson said the FAA was extremely hesitant to do that last year, but the administration is now starting to look into the air traffic management plan.

In early December, Amazon announced its first Prime air delivery in England. We posted the story at showing how Amazon tracked the delivery beginning with the order being placed until the package arrived. The entire process took 13 minutes, and Amazon hopes the Prime Air program will deliver small packages to customers through this system soon.

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