Amazon Sets Sights on Drone Delivery
However, safety seems to be the biggest hurdle.
CNN spoke to drone expert Mary (Missy) Cummings, an associate professor at MIT and one of the Navy's first female fighter pilots. She pointed out that some might aim at the drones for sport or in an effort to steal the goods.
Amazon did not address that aspect on its website, stating that ”Safety will be our top priority, and our vehicles will be built with multiple redundancies and designed to commercial aviation standards.”
Also deeming safety as its No. 1 mission, the FAA currently only allows private companies to conduct testing of drones after receiving clearance to do so.
Used for military operations previously, unmanned aerial vehicles have been used in the public sector since their National Airspace System debut in 1990 to assist in missions in the public interest, such as firefighting, disaster relief, search and rescue, law enforcement and boarder patrol. Operations are permitted up to 50,000 feet, but are prohibited over major urban areas due to an increase in manned aircraft in those areas.
Last year, the FAA established the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Office and received congressional push to integrate these aircraft into the National Airspace System by 2015, and Cummings, who also wrote an op-ed for the Boston Globe, believes Amazon’s involvement will help the process.
“With Amazon’s entry into the commercial drone market, innovations will now happen much more rapidly,” she said. “The commercial drone market is a much-needed shot in the arm for an ailing aerospace industry, and will likely leapfrog military drone development, especially in software advances.
However, she does not feel FAA will meet the 2015 deadline, resulting in Amazon taking its business overseas.
“Unless we address the regulatory aspects soon, we will watch the imminent commercial drone revolution happen overseas. Congress needs to hold the FAA’s feet to the fire before this technology takes flight and leaves the U.S. commercial market behind.”