It’s been roughly a year since Amazon announced Prime Air, a delivery service that would use aerial drones to deliver products to people’s doorsteps. While the company has been working hard at building the drones and other back end systems, the biggest obstacle in its path is still regulation.
Taking things into its own hands, Amazon has outed its vision for how drones will fly around cities avoiding planes, buildings and other obstacles. Further, the company has introduced a framework for developing the drone industry, similar to how things were in the early days of the Internet.
However, since the company believes that drone operators and companies aren’t collaborating with each other enough, it has proposed certain standards centered towards the segregation of airspace below 500 feet – where drones fly.
The company suggests that drones fly between the ground and 400 feet, with the airspace between 400 and 500 feet and all airspace around airports designated as no-fly zones. Areas below 200 feet would be low-speed localized traffic zones, while the space between 200 and 400 feet be reserved for sort of a drone superhighway.
The airspace below 200 feet will be where Drones would be while completing their deliveries, ie dropping off packages at homes. In this region drones will be flown autonomously, requiring them to be fitted with sensors to talk to each other for basic sense and avoid procedures.
Amazon has put forward the its proposal in a pair of white papers (1) (2). The company’s idea is far more ambitious than anything else we’ve seen so far, but is highly unlikely to be implemented anytime soon.
For now, drone manufacturers and companies like Amazon need to develop the technology to an extent where it can be demonstrated in control environments, following which highly restrictive trials can begin in public spaces. The approach has to be similar to what auto companies developing autonomously driven vehicles have taken.