Retail

CES Drones Questioned by Amazon Exec

During a panel at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Paul Misener, Amazon’s vice president of global innovation policy and communications, warned that current state laws governing drone operations would continue to pose problems for developing drone delivery systems.

In a panel that included the FAA’s Marke “Hoot” Gibson and Matt Hancock, Britain’s digital minister, Misener said that it would be best to have globally consistent commercial drone regulations, though variations between large regions — like between Europe and Asia — wouldn’t be problematic.

“Where it would be a problem,” Misener was quoted as saying, “is if Texas had a rule that Arkansas didn’t or if Belgium had a rule that France didn’t. Here in the U.S., we’ve seen a proliferation of state bills that could affect the ability of entrepreneurs or larger enterprises to conduct business across state borders, and that makes no sense at all. The FAA has been in charge of the airspace for safety.... For states to step in at this point would be a real problem.”

The panel discussion took place as Washington state legislators geared up to consider a bill which could limit or potentially even ban unauthorized drone flights over private property — the sixth time such a bill has been proposed in the past two years in Washington, noted GeekWire.

While current FAA regulations have limited Amazon's ability to test drone delivery stateside, Amazon has started a small, private drone delivery trial in the U.K. While it’s a little too late to be the first (you win this round, 7-Eleven), slow and steady wins the race.

Amazon is currently working with only two lucky shoppers near its first Prime Air fulfillment center in Cambridge, U.K., who can now order their goods by drone. Amazon plans to eventually expand this trial to hundreds of shoppers who live within a few miles of its first Prime Air fulfillment center. The first Prime Air delivery took place on December 7, 2016, and took 13 minutes.

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