As you've probably heard, Amazon wants to deliver Kindles, novels, and other goods using drones. You know, those unmanned aerial vehicles that creep out condo dwellers and are supposed to stay clear of flight paths.
Today (March 30), the Guardian newspaper in the U.K. reported that the world's largest Internet retailer is testing delivery drones in Canada. More specifically, a secret site in B.C., just 2,000 feet from the U.S. border.
So what is Amazon up to on its "plot of open land lined by oak trees and firs"? The article states:
Early experiments in Canada have focused on a range of individual drone capabilities: sensors that can detect and avoid obstacles in a drone’s path; link-loss procedures that control the aircraft should its connection with base be broken; stability in wind and turbulence; and environmental impact.
Amazon is calling its planned drone delivery service Prime Air. The idea is to deliver packages to customers' doorsteps within a half-hour of them placing an order online.
The company is carrying out tests in B.C. because its requests to be allowed to do this research outdoors in Washington state have "so far largely been rebuffed" by the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority. The Guardian observes:
The contrast between the relative rigidity of the FAA’s approach to drone testing and the relatively relaxed regulatory regime in Canada is startling. Under the Canadian system, Amazon has been granted a virtual carte blanche regarding its entire fleet of drones within its designated airspace, having gone through a licensing process that took just three weeks.
According to the article, Amazon's "highly autonomous" drones will weigh less than 55 pounds, fly 50 miles per hour, and carry up to five pounds.