FAA stalls Amazon's drone deliveries

Amazon's (NASDAQ: AMZN) plans for drone deliveries were dealt a blow as the Federal Aviation Administration delivers its own guidelines for future commercial efforts.

The FAA's proposed safety rules dictate that operators keep drones in sight and ban flights over bystanders or higher than 500 feet. This effectively eliminates the use of drones for delivery of consumer packages.

These rules would keep Amazon's planned Prime Air drone delivery service from operating in the United States, Paul Misener, Amazon VP for global policy told USA Today in a statement. But he continued, "We are committed to realizing our vision for Prime Air and are prepared to deploy where we have the regulatory support we need."

The proposed rules are "a stepping stone for coming up with policies for how delivery drones are going to operate," said P.K. Kannan, a University of Maryland marketing professor who is researching how retail businesses can use drones. "I don't think the U.S. government wants to stifle [a] business that is really going to take off."

Amazon and Google are expected to file objections and comments, but drone development and use in commercial endeavors is in the very early stages. When Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos first discussed the potential use of drones in a CBS News segment before Cyber Monday 2013, it was considered to be largely a publicity stunt.

But while the concept does seem far-fetched, drone development is in high gear, as evidenced by the many models flying around the International CES in January. And more efficient package delivery is a priority, not just for Amazon, but for all retailers now operating in an omnichannel market.

For more:
-See this USA Today story
-See this Forbes story

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