Amazon describes how it wants delivery drones to fly

Amazon drone plan

Some of the biggest players in the world of commercial drones are drawing up plans for how to safely manage the growing flock of unmanned vehicles in what are quickly becoming crowded skies.

On Tuesday, Amazon.com Inc. laid out a proposal centered on slicing U.S. airspace into segments for different categories of unmanned aircraft, while keeping them all away from airplanes. The plan, described by Amazon’s top drone executive at a conference hosted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, would include one slice — a “high-speed transit zone” from 200 feet to 400 feet above the ground — for advanced unmanned aircraft like the delivery drones Amazon is developing.

The Amazon AMZN, -0.11% proposal is part of a broader push to develop automated systems to maintain order among the growing number of drones zipping around U.S. skies. The Amazon vision incorporates much of a NASA plan for an automated drone-traffic management system, a project that has more than 100 other collaborators, including Google Inc. GOOG, -1.10% and Verizon Communications Inc. VZ, +0.26%

While implementation of any new system is still years away, consensus is emerging among regulators and the drone and aviation industries that one is necessary. Hobbyists and professionals such as real-estate agents are increasingly using the devices, and big companies including Amazon and Google have ambitious plans to use them routinely. Already, airline pilots are increasingly spotting the devices near airports, and drones recently forced the grounding of planes that were trying to fight wildfires in California. Strict U.S. rules currently limit drones commercial potential, but don’t solve some of the biggest safety threats.

Parimal Kopardekar, head of NASA’s drone-management project, said he hopes the U.S. can adopt a system to manage drone traffic before a tragedy occurs. “It’s crucial,” he said. Without a system, “everyone flies anywhere they want to and they end up going into no-fly zones and into firefighting efforts and near airports.”

(Source: Marketwatch.com | JACK NICAS)

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28 Jun 2017 - 08:59

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