Talking tech since 2003

Last week, news hit that Amazon was making good on its threats to vacate the United States for drone testing, citing interminable delays in gaining testing approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Reported by Reuters, the news came in response to the FAA finally approving one of Amazon’s a drones for testing in the United States—and that Amazon had already moved onto newer designs.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos showing off an Amazon Prime Air drone on 60 Minutes.

Said Amazon’s VP for global public policy Paul Misener to the Senate Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security:

“We don’t test [that drone] anymore. We’ve moved on to more advanced designs that we already are testing abroad.

Nowhere outside of the United States have we been required to wait more than one or two months to begin testing.”

He added:

“This low level of government attention and slow pace are inadequate, especially compared to the regulatory efforts in other countries. The (FAA) already has adequate statutory authority. What the FAA needs is impetus, lest the United States fall further behind.”

Now, a report published by The Guardian on Monday says that Amazon has been testing its newest drones at a “secret site in Canada.” So it’s probably not a Tim Hortons—everyone’s all over those places.

The location is “barely 2,000 feet from the US border,” and gives Amazon the airspace it needs to test its drones for an eventual rollout of drone delivery services, Amazon Prime Air. While the United States may be lagging behind in this regard, the good news for Amazon is that it has reach throughout the world. As such, if other countries decide to open its skies up to Amazon’s army of benevolent robots, America may be induced to follow suit.

On the other hand, progress in terms of legislation moves pretty slowly on this side of the border, and the situation has continued to get worse year after year. Ironically (and kind of sadly), the fact that Amazon is one of the biggest businesses in the world may help change the FAA’s tune when it comes to offering approvals more quickly. If there’s one thing that can usually motivate political change, it’s the presence of lots of business bucks.

[Sources” Reuters, The Guardian]

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