Amazon seeks air space for delivery drones

  • 29/07/2015
Amazon seeks air space for delivery drones

Online retail colossus Amazon wants to carve out a special zone of the sky to shuttle commercial drones that would deliver goods to its customers.

Amazon Prime Air project vice-president Gur Kimchi used a NASA convention in California on Tuesday (local time) to fly the idea of dedicating separate air zones for commercial drones.

Kimchi proposed setting commercial drone zones between 61 and 122 metres above the ground, with a no-fly buffer of 30m above to keep them safely apart from other aircraft.

Less sophisticated drones, such as those used by hobbyists, could be given air space below that used by the faster, more sensor-equipped commercial models.

"Amazon believes the safest and most efficient model for sUAS (small Unmanned Aerial Systems) with mixed equipage and capabilities is in segregated airspace with a defined structure for operations below 500 feet," said a written portion of the Amazon Prime Air presentation.

"The public and private sUAS industry should work together to realise this new concept of airspace operations if we are to bring the remarkable innovations of sUAS to bear in a safe and responsible way."

Drones would need to meet technical standards to enter commercial drone zones, which would have their own air traffic control systems.

Amazon last month insisted on a significant change to proposed US drone regulations before it introduces 30-minute Prime Air parcel delivery by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to its American customers.

The online retail giant - a major player in the development of UAVs for civilian missions - acknowledged safety concerns as the US Federal Aviation Administration hammers out a final set of commercial drone-flying rules.

The FAA is poised to miss a September deadline for a long-awaited final set of rules to govern civilian drones in crowded US skies - prompting industry fears that the United States is falling behind other countries in developing high-value UAV technology.