Experts say Amazon drones faced with tremendous obstacles- report

December 2
7:02 PM 2013

A report on the Financial Times said Amazon's plan to use unmanned drones to have packages delivered to consumers is beset with huge obstacles. Citing aviation experts and drone manufacturers, the report said that there are safety and regulatory concerns that Amazon must address before it can get its drones to fly. Amazon Founder and Chief Executive Jeff Bezos had earlier announced that the ecommerce giant could start using drones to deliver products in four to five years.

Lexington Institute Analyst Loren Thompson said aviation authorities would not approve the drones in the numbers Amazon have in mind because of the dangers it posed to civil aerospace. He added that while cheap drones would be flying the same height as helicopters, there is still no guarantee that collision won't occur.

Thompson told the Financial Times, "The likelihood that drones would hit high structures and electrical structures is very great because they probably would lack the internal memory to manoeuvre around such objects."

The report said Amazon was waiting for the Federal Aviation Administration to come up with rules about using drones in US airspace. Congress had asked the agency to produce the regulations by 2015.

Another concern critics have brought against domestic drones is the threat to privacy. Democratic Senator Edward Markey last month filed legislation that would prevent drones from being used to spy on Americans. He said, "Convenience should never trump constitutional protections. Before our skies teem with commercial drones, clear rules must be set that protect the privacy and safety of the public."

For others like 3D Robotics Chief Executive Chris Anderson, the challenge lies in making drones equipped with the technology to sense and avoid crashes. He told the Financial Times, "The technology challenges will be solved (by us and others) sooner than the regulatory ones, I think - Silicon Valley moves faster than Washington DC. But you need both."

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