Amazon’s Drone Testing Takes Flight In Yet Another Country

Flying drone with camera
Photogtaph by Buena Vista Images — Getty Images

If a company can’t get regulatory approval to fly drones in the U.S., there’s always the Netherlands.

Amazon is currently testing drones for its ambitious Amazon Prime Air delivery service in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands, said Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Monday during a Washington Post event.

Bezos’s comments confirm recent reports of Amazon testing drone deliveries at locations throughout the U.K. and Canada while adding the Netherlands to the list.

U.S. regulations have made it difficult for Amazon and other big retailers to quickly roll out drone delivery experiments. In April, the Internet retail giant sent the Federal Aviation Administration a letter that urged it to ease up on its drone testing regulations.

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Companies that wish to fly drones must currently seek the FAA’s approval on a case-by-case basis. The FAA approved Amazon in April to test drones, albeit with a bunch of restrictions, including forbidding the company from flying drones at night and ensuring that the robots never fly out of an operator’s line of site.

Amazon and some drone advocacy groups like the Small UAV Coalition have argued against the FAA’s tough drone rules. These groups argue that countries like France, Sweden, and Norway have less strict rules governing commercial use of drones and that the U.S. risks losing out to other countries when it comes to drone technology innovation.

However, the FAA has maintained that drone safety is one of its top priorities, which is why it’s been taking its time finalizing its commercial drone rules. At a press conference last month, FAA administrator Michael Huerta said his agency expects to finalize rules for commercial operations by late spring.

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Meanwhile, law enforcement in the Netherlands said on Monday that they have a plan in case drones pilots fly them places they aren’t supposed to. Instead of using technology like drone-tracking systems or weaponry to blast down drones, law enforcement there is considering using eagles to hunt rogue drones by snatching them with their talons and then carrying them away from crowds.

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