Delivery from the Sky
Using drones for commercial purposes is not a new idea. When people suggested using drones to record quality footage of sports games, regulations were brought up that crushed any possibility of having them in the near future, delaying them until 2016 at the earliest. However, Amazon has finished initial tests for their Amazon Prime Air delivery drones, and they are ready to deploy whenever the Federal Aviation Administration gives them the okay. Furthermore, Michael Whitaker, the deputy administrator for the FAA, says that Amazon plans to speed up the regulation process and send out their drones within the next 12 months.
Who Controls the Airspace?
Amazon has had various quarrels with the FAA, arguing against the restrictive policies of drone testing. The company went through a hefty process just to get permission to conduct a drone test-flight, and even then, the FAA set a barrage of restrictions on the flight. They requested that the flight be conducted by a pilot with a private pilot and medical certification, in daylight hours, under 400 feet, and most importantly, within line-of-sight of both the pilot and an FAA observer. The FAA continued to enforce these rules on commercial drone flights, which prevents Amazon Prime Air from happening because the drones need to fly out of the pilot’s sight to arrive at their destinations. Amazon is negotiating with Congress and the FAA to reconsider the regulations, citing the consumer benefits that are to be gained through their drone system. However, the FAA remains hesitant, worrying about congested air traffic and potential collisions with large, manned aircrafts. They seek a more safe and organized plan before budging on their position.
A Faster Future
Despite the many setbacks to the launch of Amazon Prime Air, Paul E. Misener, vice president of global public policy for Amazon, remains optimistic about the plan. Although Amazon is not currently able to receive, process, and deliver an order within a half-hour span, Misener plans to have the logistics ready by the time regulations finish. A 30-minute delivery time will revolutionize the realm of shipping, especially considering that Amazon’s next fastest shipment time takes an entire day. The small drones will be faster and more efficient for small orders compared to sending a large automobile to make the shipment. In the meantime, Amazon may consider following Google’s stead in drone testing by moving their testing outside of the United States.