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Amazon Heads North To Test Drone Delivery

If you’ve been keeping track of developments in the drone world, you’d already know that Amazon are making inquiries and forays into getting these robot helpers airborne to drop off goodies. It’s absolutely surreal what the company are planning – the drones will utilize a pocket of oft-unused airspace, and travel through predetermined ‘corridors’ at roughly 50mph.

The corridors themselves will sit in the gap between where most buildings end and where air travel begins, an area roughly between 200ft and 500ft up. The drones are said to deliver packages weighing 55lbs or less (which account for 86% of Amazon parcels) from distribution centers to the customer – in just 30 minutes.

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There’s still a long way to go though – the company are conducting tests in British Columbia, on Canada’s west coast, to determine the efficiency and feasibility of the drones. Of course, the problems are numerous. Here in South West England we’ve been seeing high winds on a daily basis in the last week, powerful enough to topple park benches and road works barriers – how could a drone cope, let alone manage to keep a parcel safe?

Well, Amazon’s Gur Kimchi, the chief designer of drone delivery, has promised that “We are going to end up with unique shapes, unique vehicles. The most important part is to develop strong confidence that our system is safe and that we can demonstrate that to customers” in a recent article in The Guardian. Frankly it’s impressive what the company is up to.

This Isn’t Even My Final Form: Amazon’s drones are being given the OK by the FAA so slowly that even models such as this are obsolete by the time the approval is awarded.

To combat the stresses and strains a drone might come up against, Amazon’s drone design is armed with some unique toys. Sensors will handle avoiding obstacles just like on a self driving car, but also ‘link loss’ procedures will guide a drone home automatically or land it safely if the connection goes down. On top of this, the wind problem is being handled – experiments in the Canadian wilderness are focusing on the turbulence issue.

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But why Canada, anyway? Amazon, a US based company, is coming up against some severe hurdles that require some even more advanced maneuvers – legal ones. The FAA, which controls America’s skies, is taking their time making drones and drone tech ready to use for delivery due to slow moving legislative procedures. The American bureaucratic machine is notoriously sluggish, so Amazon has had to take their tests elsewhere for the time being.

The company has warned the US government and business authorities that this slowness to adapt could leave America behind – the US might not be the country to lead the way in drone adoption. Hopefully this shocking revelation that America might not end up being the first or ‘best’ at something will galvanize those in charge to move faster.

Source: The Guardian

Via: Engadget