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Salon reports that Amazon has officially requested permission from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to test the use of drones to deliver packages, a program that it has dubbed Prime Air.

The story says that Amazon's request details "startling advancements" in terms of drone technology development over the past five months, and currently "is testing their agility, redundancy, 'sense-and-avoid sensors,' duration and other algorithms. The company is also working on aerial vehicles that can travel over 50 miles per hour and transport a five pound payload … All of this testing has taken place in its indoor research and development labs, and now Amazon wants to take it outside."

The FAA currently prohibits the use of drones for commercial purposes, and reiterated that guidance - without naming Amazon - in a recent statement.

Amazon says that if the US does not allow such testing, it will be forced to move its Prime Air drone development to another, more lenient country.
KC's View:
Yikes.

I have to say that I'm not entirely thrilled with the "do it our way or we'll do it elsewhere" approach. I understand it, and maybe it is just the way things are done, but I hate the idea of threats dictating national public policy, especially because it strikes me that there are some pretty decent arguments against private, commercial drone usage, some of them having to do with terrorism. (Haven't these guys ever read a Tom Clancy novel?)

One thing we do know. Amazon probably isn;t moving the drone program to France.

Still, I hate to get in the way of progress … and there ought to be a way to test this technology in a way that satisfies everybody's agendas.

By the way… Prime Air? Is that a great name or what?