Wed, Dec 10, 2014 - Page 15 News List

Amazon threatens to move drone research out of US

AFP, NEW YORK

Amazon Inc, keen to blaze a trail with delivery by drone, is threatening to take much of its research for the plan outside the US amid frustrations with regulators.

“In the absence of a timely approval by the FAA to conduct outdoor testing, we have begun utilizing outdoor testing facilities outside the United States,” Amazon vice president Paul Misener said in a Sunday letter to the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“These non-US facilities enable us to quickly build and modify our Prime Air vehicles as we construct new designs and make improvements,” he said.

Misener said Amazon hoped to work on developing the project in the US, which he said “would include the creation of high-quality jobs and significant investment in the local community.”

However, regulators have not found a way to give the research a green light.

The Seattle-based online giant had been testing in the US state of Washington.

Company founder Jeff Bezos this week said he hoped to move forward on plans to use drones for delivery of goods, but said this could be delayed by red tape. US authorities are still considering proposals for commercial drone use.

“It’s sad, but possible that the US could be late [for drone deliveries], that other countries will have it first,” Bezos said.

Amazon first unveiled plans to use drones last year. It wants them to deliver light packages to customers in 30 minutes or less.

On Monday, the FAA said it is reviewing Amazon’s letter.

“The agency has designated an inspector to work closely with representatives from Amazon on its request for an experimental certificate to conduct research and development of unmanned aircraft,” the agency said in an e-mail. “The FAA is currently waiting for additional information from the company to complete the application. Since 2005, the FAA has issued over 200 initial and recurrent experimental research and development certificates to unmanned aircraft operations.”

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