House lawmakers held a hearing today on commercial use of unmanned aerial drones.
Amazon wants simple nationwide regulations that will allow its fleet of drones off the ground.
Amazon VP of Global Public Policy Paul Misener told Congress the company can use drones to deliver packages at a distance 10 miles or more, well beyond the visual line of sight.
The company asked Congress for simple nationwide regulations for drone service of packages up to 5 pounds.
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Computer World reported:
Amazon on Wednesday will call on Congress to embrace automated drone flights and come up with a set of simple, nationwide regulations that will allow its proposed Prime Air service to get off the ground.
The company is one of several that is lobbying U.S. lawmakers hard to accept looser regulations for drone flights than those proposed recently by the Federal Aviation Administration.
As they stand now, the FAA’s proposed rules won’t allow Prime Air to fly, and that could stop a potentially lucrative business for Amazon, which wants to use drones to deliver goods to customers in 30 minutes or less.
The latest step in Amazon’s campaign will come Wednesday, when the head of its public policy team will speak in front of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Paul Misener will tell lawmakers that Amazon disagrees with the FAA’s assessment that putting so-called “sense and avoid” technologies on small drones presents “unique safety concerns,” according to a copy of his prepared remarks released Tuesday by the committee.
Sense and avoid is vital for automated flight. It’s the technology that allows drones to fly independently of human operators, automatically sensing potential obstacles and adjusting their flight to avoid them.
The development of such systems is a key part of Amazon’s research efforts into drones, and the company feels that any decision by the FAA now needs to take into account the fast pace at which technology is improving.
“Overly prescriptive restrictions are likely to have the unintended side-effect of stifling innovation and, over time, will fail to offer any corresponding safety benefit as small unmanned aerial system (SUAS) technology improves,” he says in his prepared remarks.
The argument about stifling innovation has been successful for Amazon in the past. The company had been threatening to move its drone research to Canada because it didn’t have permission to test drones in the U.S., but after similar complaints, the FAA provided that permission earlier this year.