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FAA Bans Delivering Packages With Drones

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the but-it-would-have-been-hilarious dept.

Government 199

An anonymous reader sends this report from Ars Technica: The Federal Aviation Administration has said that online shopping powerhouse Amazon may not employ drones to deliver packages, at least not anytime soon. The revelation was buried in an FAA document (PDF) unveiled Monday seeking public comment on its policy on drones, or what the agency calls "model aircraft." The FAA has maintained since at least 2007 that the commercial operation of drones is illegal. ... In Monday's announcement, published in the Federal Register, the FAA named Amazon's December proposal as an example of what is barred under regulations that allow the use of drones for hobby and recreational purposes. The agency did not mention Amazon Prime Air by name, but it didn't have to. Under a graphic that says what is barred, the FAA mentioned the "Delivering of packages to people for a fee." A footnote added, "If an individual offers free shipping in association with a purchase or other offer, FAA would construe the shipping to be in furtherance of a business purpose, and thus, the operation would not fall within the statutory requirement of recreation or hobby purpose."

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Prime = OK ?? (-1)

SkydiverFL (310021) | about 3 months ago | (#47308989)

So, since us Prime customers are able to elect "free" shipping on certain items, should one assume that drones may deliver packages to us?

RTFS (2, Informative)

dywolf (2673597) | about 3 months ago | (#47309021)

RTFS

Re:RTFS (3, Informative)

Dins (2538550) | about 3 months ago | (#47309031)

Executive summary: No.

Re:Prime = OK ?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47309057)

According to TFS,

If an individual offers free shipping in association with a purchase or other offer, FAA would construe the shipping to be in furtherance of a business purpose, and thus, the operation would not fall within the statutory requirement of recreation or hobby purpose.

Prime = OK ?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47309067)

That would be "in furtherance of a business purpose, and thus, the operation would not fall within the statutory requirement of recreation or hobby purpose."

In other words NO,

Re:Prime = OK ?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47309069)

No, in order for a drone to operate it must be for "recreation or hobby purpose." So they're explicitly calling out "even if you say it's free shipping, it's still for business, i.e. not recreational purposes, so is definitely still banned." They're trying to make sure no one tries the "free shipping" loophole.

Would help if... (1)

SkydiverFL (310021) | about 3 months ago | (#47309097)

... I loaded the entire post. Sorry 'bout that.

Re:Prime = OK ?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47309107)

"If an individual offers free shipping in association with a purchase or other offer, FAA would construe the shipping to be in furtherance of a business purpose, and thus, the operation would not fall within the statutory requirement of recreation or hobby purpose."

Apparently. Sounds like as long as the shipping costs are not linked to the purchase, dronelivery is fair game.
If challenged, Amazon might win by proving that Prime is a subscription for better service options in general, and that the free shipping aspect is a courtesy to the loyal customers as opposed to Prime being only a shipping cost rescheduling program.

Re:Prime = OK ?? (5, Funny)

OhPlz (168413) | about 3 months ago | (#47309127)

You'd have to argue that since corporations are people too, the corporation can make deliveries as a hobby. Somehow, I don't think that will fly.

Re:Prime = OK ?? (1, Offtopic)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 3 months ago | (#47309187)

Whence cometh the idea it's "only for recreational purposes"?

FAA, we The People, hereby instruct you to quit dragging ass and come up with commercial service. Yours is to obey us, not the other way around.

Also, Congress should get off its ass and mandate this too.

Re:Prime = OK ?? (1)

Vairon (17314) | about 3 months ago | (#47309477)

Corporations are not people. This is seriously over told statement based on misreporting by a US Supreme court reporter who coined the phrase.

Free... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47308999)

Free as in Free Drone Beer

Amazon can quit sweating now... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47309011)

quick... fire all those new "drone engineers".

Re:Amazon can quit sweating now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47309049)

Yea, they were trying to staff that effort. Hope they didn't have any takers.

On the contrary (3, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 3 months ago | (#47309391)

...this just means it's time for Amazon to laywer-up. Or lobbiest-up. Or both.

Oh well, Jeff (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47309013)

Back to the catapult idea.

Re:Oh well, Jeff (2)

Dins (2538550) | about 3 months ago | (#47309047)

I prefer artillery.

Re:Oh well, Jeff (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about 3 months ago | (#47309577)

Or, as the late Tom Clancy proposed, Boxes From God.

Re:Oh well, Jeff (4, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | about 3 months ago | (#47309699)

Ballistic satellite delivery system! EXCELLENT! I look forward to the craters in everyone's lawn.

Re:Oh well, Jeff (1)

radarskiy (2874255) | about 3 months ago | (#47310147)

Vernor Vinge, is that you?

What the hell is wrong with the FAA? (4, Informative)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 3 months ago | (#47310101)

Just a couple of months ago, in March, a Federal National Transportation Safety Board Administrative Judge ruled that the FAA does not have legal authority to regulate small low-altitude commercial drones [politico.com] .

FAA seems to be trying to act like Obama, going ahead with policy it already knows to be illegal.

Amazon should know better (5, Funny)

Lodlaiden (2767969) | about 3 months ago | (#47309037)

Drones are for delivering missiles.

Re:Amazon should know better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47309289)

Missiles are also good for delivering products. Amazon can launch a rocket with your Oracle 12c books directly in your living room. They could use armor piercing technology, so that the walls are not an obstacle.

Re:Amazon should know better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47309361)

And American Justice apparently .. to American citizens no less.

Re:Amazon should know better (1)

just_a_monkey (1004343) | about 3 months ago | (#47309629)

Liberty and the pursuit of happiness, dude. That's it. It's right there in the constitution. There is no right to life if you're an American citizen.

Re:Amazon should know better (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 3 months ago | (#47309495)

So what you're saying is that the packages should be loaded into the missiles. Coming soon: Amazon Prime Missile! When you order your product, it will be loaded into a missile and aimed right for your front door. Time from "shipment" to "delivery" should be mere minutes.

Luddites on the loose. (2, Interesting)

Peter L. Berghold (3639725) | about 3 months ago | (#47309051)

Yet another example of an overbearing bureaucracy killing innovation.

Re:Luddites on the loose. (4, Insightful)

jythie (914043) | about 3 months ago | (#47309115)

Considering the poor safety history drones have had so far and the point that this is the FAA's job, I am not sure I would call it overreach at this stage.

Re:Luddites on the loose. (3, Interesting)

0123456 (636235) | about 3 months ago | (#47309147)

Considering these are basically miniature electric helicopters, I'm not sure a crash is really that big a deal; certainly no more so than a truck crashing in the street while delivering the same package through the FAA-approved route. Plus, whoever it crashed on would get free stuff as compensation.

Re:Luddites on the loose. (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 3 months ago | (#47309205)

Considering these are basically miniature electric helicopters, I'm not sure a crash is really that big a deal;

Well, the only part of that which seems reassuring to me is miniature, and that claim doesn't hold up. A drone which can carry (for example) more than about a can of soda is large enough to cause serious injury if it falls out of the sky and lands on you, or its software gets confused and it engages in controlled flight into your face. And then there's the fire risk if something bad should happen to a battery; sure, you could use LifePo or another safer-chemistry battery, but that doesn't rule out fires. If the drone should come down and set something inconvenient alight, assigning blame will be the least consideration.

Re:Luddites on the loose. (1)

Shakrai (717556) | about 3 months ago | (#47309427)

Well, the only part of that which seems reassuring to me is miniature, and that claim doesn't hold up. A drone which can carry (for example) more than about a can of soda is large enough to cause serious injury if it falls out of the sky and lands on you, or its software gets confused and it engages in controlled flight into your face. And then there's the fire risk if something bad should happen to a battery; sure, you could use LifePo or another safer-chemistry battery, but that doesn't rule out fires. If the drone should come down and set something inconvenient alight, assigning blame will be the least consideration.

You've overlooked something that a friend of mine summarized with a single Photoshopped image, that of a rottweiler holding an Amazon drone in his mouth.

One can only envision the hilarity that will ensue when every neighborhood dog decides to go after these things. What's the counter to that? Equipping them with pepper spray like the mailman has? That could also prove to be amusing.

Re:Luddites on the loose. (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 3 months ago | (#47309689)

One can only envision the hilarity that will ensue when every neighborhood dog decides to go after these things. What's the counter to that? Equipping them with pepper spray like the mailman has? That could also prove to be amusing.

Doesn't take much imagination: some idiot weaponizes his toy, flies it over someone else's property, and causes harm to either persons or property via said weaponization; subsequent criminal and civil suits ensure that other people will think twice about weaponizing a toy and using it to assault other people/properties.

Re:Luddites on the loose. (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 3 months ago | (#47309715)

They never have to touch down; they could parachute the goods to the door.

Then you just get a rottie chewing up the book you ordered, and it's all your responsibility, as the book was delivered prior to mangling.

A bigger issue (as discussed before) would be dropping them out of the sky, either with a projectile, radio interference, or messing with the power supply. People could even order a book, track its flight and drop it before it gets to the destination... then do a chargeback and keep the book.

Unmanned deliveries have issues. Unmanned flight does too.

Re:Luddites on the loose. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47310125)

Parachutes, smarachutes. If your dog wrecks their drone that you asked them to send to your property, you're going to end up buying them a new drone.

Re:Luddites on the loose. (2)

Kevin Fishburne (1296859) | about 3 months ago | (#47309485)

Considering these are basically miniature electric helicopters, I'm not sure a crash is really that big a deal; certainly no more so than a truck crashing in the street while delivering the same package through the FAA-approved route. Plus, whoever it crashed on would get free stuff as compensation.

Tell that to the guy whose cranium was split in half by a quadcopter a year or so ago.

Re: Luddites on the loose. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47309591)

And delivery trucks are NEVER in accidents that result in death....

Re:Luddites on the loose. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47309869)

That was a helicopter, not a quadcopter

Re:Luddites on the loose. (1)

maccodemonkey (1438585) | about 3 months ago | (#47309615)

Considering these are basically miniature electric helicopters, I'm not sure a crash is really that big a deal; certainly no more so than a truck crashing in the street while delivering the same package through the FAA-approved route. Plus, whoever it crashed on would get free stuff as compensation.

Except trucks don't frequently crash as they're flying over my house, or power lines.

Sure, trucks do crash into houses sometimes, or do crash into power lines sometimes, but that's an entirely different situation than expecting them to fly over your hard.

The FAA could build up some form of regulated routes and co-ordination between drones, but they have not as of yet, and have not gotten any direction to do so. So until then, banning these uses of drones seems reasonable.

Re:Luddites on the loose. (1)

SeaFox (739806) | about 3 months ago | (#47310063)

Considering these are basically miniature electric helicopters, I'm not sure a crash is really that big a deal...

To be capable of carrying a package, these are going to be quite a bit larger than some dinky RC copter.
I think being hit with one (or the merchandise it's carrying) could cause significant injury.

Re:Luddites on the loose. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47309225)

Indeed. This is the FAA's job and they have made it clear they want to move towards integrating drones into the national airspace. They just want to do it slowly and methodically. Given the number of people who complained and freaked out about the possibility of test sites for UASs being in their area, it is in everyone's best interest to make sure we don't have any sort of mishaps in the early stages. If there were some sort of accident then their would be a public outcry and that would delay the usage of UAS for commercial purposes even more. I would expect things to be slow with the gradual introduction of remotely piloted and then eventually autonomous unmanned vehicles.

Re:Luddites on the loose. (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 3 months ago | (#47309435)

Safety History? Random news stories on CNN or Slashdot are now safety studies?

If you want to ban an entire industry, you should have some evidence to back up your claims. I don't see drones as a physical threat at all. There's lots of other reasons why they're threatening. But if I can knock the thing out of the air with a fly swatter I'm not too worried about it. If Amazon were trying to deliver barbells with drones, I'd be concerned. But if they limited it to books under a certain weight? USB cables? Things like that? I dont have a problem with it.

And this is what the FAA should have done. Under a certain mass and speed they should have remained unregulated. Over 5lbs and 10mph (or some other arbitrary numbers) they'd have a legitimate concern.

The kickback must flow (2)

just_a_monkey (1004343) | about 3 months ago | (#47309693)

...ban an entire industry...

That industry better make with the campaign contributions, then.

Re:Luddites on the loose. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47309793)

So you're okay with me dropping a 2-3 pound object on your head from a couple hundred feet in the air? Not concerned at all that that might cause injury or death? I sure would be, but maybe you have a condition that requires you to wear a helmet at all times.

They have a legitimate concern because:
a) This adds a tremendous amount of "stuff" in the air over cities and roads;
b) This has never been done before, at the volume Amazon will try to scale to;
c) Self-driving machines in general are tremendously tricky to "get right" - it's why we STILL don't have self-driving cars easily available, and now you have to add a third dimension for them to operate in;
d) there is no established safety record for these drones;

Taking this slowly, and developing clear safety regulations and requirements is sensible, and it's what the FAA's job is.

Re:Luddites on the loose. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47309917)

Again with retarded drivel. Is there an OFF switch on your dick beaters hitting a keyboard?

I am a drone pilot ... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47310153)

and have worked extensively on safety studies. No commercially available UAV (including the military ones) are anywhere close to safe enough to fly over populated areas. The experimental ones, generally, are not adequately designed to be able to characterize their safety. None of them meet the extant rules for aircraft design, nor can be flown in compliance with FAA operational rules outside of the (congress prohibited creating any) hobby RC aircraft rules.

Drones are inherently digital fly by wire aircraft. Standards exist for designing fly by wire aircraft, and have been learned the hard way ... people dying. None of the drones are anywhere close to meeting those design rules, and generally fail to comply with most other design rules except the structures ones. And, there is no ruleset yet for the datalinks to control the drones.

"but, but, but ... small drones" ... How many people are seriously injured every year by a flying object we call a "baseball". There's a reason that almost every baseball league requires batting helmets. And that's a very small flying object. Drones need a mature ruleset, and should not be allowed to fly anywhere near people until there's some ruleset, so we can start developing some maturity to that ruleset.

Re:Luddites on the loose. (1)

troll -1 (956834) | about 3 months ago | (#47309711)

But it's only commercial delivery that is banned. You can deliver beer to ice fishermen by drone, no problem. But as soon as you are compensated for the effort it becomes illegal. How is this technology supposed to grow if you can't fund it?

Re:Luddites on the loose. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47309149)

Yet another example of a retarded Libertarian with a slashdot account.

Re:Luddites on the loose. (2)

0123456 (636235) | about 3 months ago | (#47309163)

Yet another example of a retarded Libertarian with a slashdot account.

So, are you going to explain why a hundred drones delivering packages is magically much more dangerous than a truck-load of Amazon packages crashing into a packed school playground?

Re:Luddites on the loose. (1)

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) | about 3 months ago | (#47309201)

Actually I see a variation on this. A truck drives down the street drones come out to delver to places in a mile square block. When they return, the truck drives a mile and repeats the process.

Re:Luddites on the loose. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47309229)

>So, are you going to explain why a hundred drones delivering packages is magically much more dangerous than a truck-load of >Amazon packages crashing into a packed school playground?


Are you going to explain why you're an idiot? No Amazon truck has ever crashed into a playground.

Re:Luddites on the loose. (1)

scsirob (246572) | about 3 months ago | (#47309381)

Meanwhile, over 400 military drones have crashed: http://www.foxnews.com/tech/20... [foxnews.com]
No-one knows if this happened over schoolgrounds yet, but considering the number of drones in service, that's a pisspoor safety record. I can only imagine that flocks of cheap, commercial drones over populated area's will cause some 'mechanical rain' when electronic disturbance (nearby lightning strike) causes them to fail.

Re:Luddites on the loose. (1)

pla (258480) | about 3 months ago | (#47309357)

So, are you going to explain why a hundred drones delivering packages is magically much more dangerous than a truck-load of Amazon packages crashing into a packed school playground?

You mean other than the fact that a human driver in that situation would do their damnedest to avoid hitting any kids, while an out-of-control drone amounts to lobbing big rocks with whirring razor blades on top into the playground?

And let's look at this with a bit less over-the-top bonus drama - Realistically, both the truck and the drone would crash into a random building, and most likely not actually hit anyone directly. Now, if either of them starts a fire, which one goes unnoticed until half the block burns down? Even assuming the driver dies on impact, people notice a truck crashing into a building; not so much when one random 4th-floor window breaks and then you don't see or hear anything for a few minutes.

Yes, the FAA needs to get its head out of its ass and come up some reasonable conditions to play with drones. In this case, though, the FAA did its job as required.

Re:Luddites on the loose. (2)

unimacs (597299) | about 3 months ago | (#47309383)

Because auto/truck accidents are normally limited to streets and highways where people know to tread with caution. In order for a drone to deliver to your home it's flying over sidewalks, lawns, homes. etc. They are definitely big enough to hurt somebody. They are a bad idea for the same reasons that flying cars are a bad idea.

Even if they are safe I don't want them buzzing around my neighborhood.

Re:Luddites on the loose. (1)

SourceFrog (627014) | about 3 months ago | (#47309607)

But this is something new, don't you get it? And since we're apparently now all Amish, we automatically ban all new technology. Existing technology is OK.

Re:Luddites on the loose. (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 3 months ago | (#47309655)

Yet another example of a retarded Libertarian with a slashdot account.

So, are you going to explain why a hundred drones delivering packages is magically much more dangerous than a truck-load of Amazon packages crashing into a packed school playground?

Aside from the false equivalence ("delivering packages" vs "crashing into a... school playground?" Really dude?), It's not magical at all - a truck can't fall out of the sky onto, er, another truck, causing the driver to crash into a packed school playground. A hundred drones, on the other hand, very much can fall from the sky and cause damage/harm to anything that happens to be below.

To me, that doesn't seem like the sort of thing that requires explanation; ie, the fact that "thing that flies over you" is inherently more dangerous than "thing that doesn't leave the ground."

Re:Luddites on the loose. (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 3 months ago | (#47309983)

A hundred drones, on the other hand, very much can fall from the sky and cause damage/harm to anything that happens to be below.

Yeah, so?

Road accidents happen all the time, and cause damage/harm to anything that happens to be in the way. The response to a new method of transport shouldn't be 'OMG! NEW STUFF! BAN IT!', it should be 'OK, is this more or less dangerous than delivering stuff by truck?'

Re:Luddites on the loose. (1)

ultranova (717540) | about 3 months ago | (#47309729)

So, are you going to explain why a hundred drones delivering packages is magically much more dangerous than a truck-load of Amazon packages crashing into a packed school playground?

Because there's one truck per ten thousand or so drones, and also because speed limits forbid driving fast near schools.

Re:Luddites on the loose. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47309169)

Until such time as the unregulated drones flying about cause some problem that inconveniences you, at which time the tune changes.

Re:Luddites on the loose. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47309189)

I can't tell if you're joking, or if you're an idiot.

Re:Luddites on the loose. (1)

synapse7 (1075571) | about 3 months ago | (#47309255)

I bet the citizens of Dubai get their shit delivered by drones.

Re:Luddites on the loose. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47309459)

Yep prime customers in Afghanistan and Yemen get their drone deliveries much quicker than US customers. Even whether they ordered anything or not.

Yet another example of how the US's technological infrastructure is falling behind the rest of the world.

Re:Luddites on the loose. (1)

Deadstick (535032) | about 3 months ago | (#47309283)

Not killing innovation, requiring it. If you want to deliver packages by air to people's doorsteps, you're just going to have to invent an anti-gravity device that will do it without killing their children and dogs.

Re:Luddites on the loose. (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 3 months ago | (#47309413)

"...without killing their children and dogs."

Well, if you keep putting silly requirements on everything we'll never make any progress!

Drone Hunting (1)

TheKDubber (3712507) | about 3 months ago | (#47309081)

I guess my drone hunting license is useless....

Re:Drone Hunting (1)

Deadstick (535032) | about 3 months ago | (#47309227)

I guess my drone hunting license is useless....

It always was: the few hundred voters who live in Deer Trail, a Colorado truckstop town, rejected the measure to authorize them. If you're one of the tourists who were conned into buying one at the truckstop anyway, you should continue on up to Wyoming where they'll be glad to sell you a stuffed jackalope head.

Re:Drone Hunting (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 3 months ago | (#47309271)

I guess my drone hunting license is useless....

It always was.

Re:Drone Hunting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47309329)

They have cheated you. Predator drones are too big to hang on the wall and your golden retriever probably couldn't fetch them. You should be hunting wabbits, not drones.

The FAA should have no word on this (4, Insightful)

cloud.pt (3412475) | about 3 months ago | (#47309083)

Low-level flight should be regulated on a municipal level, not through national airspace policies. Such type of drones doesn't need (despite having the ability) to fly higher than you average apartment block. As such, commercial, recreational or even military use of such gear should have never fallen under the FAA's jurisdiction, as the FAA never really had control over what's on a shallow level of the ground (excluding airports or helipads, but even there it's the facility that molds to the FAA regulation and not FAA regulation restricting it to total impossibility).

It's much like saying the FAA should regulate paper-plane throwing or bungee-jumping: "Hey, you can't jump from that bridge wearing an Amazon t-shirt silly. You're going to jail"

Re:The FAA should have no word on this (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about 3 months ago | (#47309123)

I think that it's the FAA sees a potential end-run around it's traditional domain- after all if you allow drones for disaster reconnaissance, how long before UPS and Fedex are campaigning for unmanned transport jets, followed by even traditional airliners wanting to get rid of their pilots? Without pilots, there go the air traffic controllers.

Meanwhile they lack the ability under the law to do much more than just push a blanket ban on drones, many of which don't even need traditional airports.

Re:The FAA should have no word on this (1)

Shakrai (717556) | about 3 months ago | (#47309475)

followed by even traditional airliners wanting to get rid of their pilots

I would expect the free market to take care of that. Would you want to get onto a plane without a human being behind the controls? I sure as hell wouldn't. Can you trust a computer pull this off [wikipedia.org] ? More to the point, I highly doubt that pilot training, salary, and benefits compromise a significant percentage of airline overhead. It's a non-zero cost to be sure but there are more significant ones that can actually be attacked without committing marketplace suicide.

Re:The FAA should have no word on this (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 3 months ago | (#47309641)

Would you want to get onto a plane without a human being behind the controls?

Not today. But after they have a proven track record, sure.

Can you trust a computer pull this off [wikipedia.org] ?

If it is properly programmed, then yes, and it should be able to do it better than most pilots. Most plane crashes are caused by human error, so cherry picking the much rarer instances where human ingenuity prevented an accident is misleading.

Re:The FAA should have no word on this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47309135)

The moment you can put a piece of paper into the gap between the device and the ground, its regulated by the FAA.

Re:The FAA should have no word on this (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 3 months ago | (#47309223)

The moment you can put a piece of paper into the gap between the device and the ground, its regulated by the FAA.

Thankfully, my dick is safe.

Re:The FAA should have no word on this (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 3 months ago | (#47309749)

*golf clap*

Well played, sexconker. Well played...

Re:The FAA should have no word on this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47309245)

I'm fairly certain they limit what can fly anywhere near a flightpath for commercial or private aviation. This is one of the issues with drones - their operators could easily take them into restricted airspace. This is a potential concern one supposes for model aircraft, but moreso for modern drones. I'm assuming they could easily constitute a hazard to navigation.

Beyond that, I'm not sure all of us want commercial entities flying around taking photos of everything, delivering pizza, etc. (Yes, satellites do it... not even convinced this is something we particularly want as a society).

Perhaps one way around this is to require all drones operating in urban areas or near flight paths to carry some form of transponder and be registered. The drones could then be tracked an operators held to account for any violations of airspace they should not be in.

Re:The FAA should have no word on this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47309857)

I'm assuming they could easily constitute a hazard to navigation.

A bird strike from a relatively small bird can fuck your day up fast, quick, and in-a-hurry, in a plane of any size. Now imagine you just sucked a 3-5 pound plastic and metal "bird" into your jet engine, possibly containing flammable or explosive chemicals in battery packs and control boards.

Yes, I'd say they could EASILY constitute a hazard to navigation.

The solution is, you regulate them strictly and ensure that people AREN'T operating these things in the vicinity of an airstrip.

Progress (1)

morgauxo (974071) | about 3 months ago | (#47309109)

In related news FAA administrators ban all technological progress. In a hearing scheduled for some time where anyone who might pay attention will be at work they will be discussing the potential banning of airplanes altogether in favor of long distance trebuchet.

Re:Progress (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47309293)

Are you joking, or evidence of how derpy /. has gotten?

better then killing the hobbyist seen by over doin (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 3 months ago | (#47309239)

better then killing the hobbyist seen by over doing the safety reg and other stuff.

But for commercial use they better be safety and drone operator training so they can't just hire anyone and that if some thing goes wrong that some will be there to pay up and make so that they can't hide under layers and layers of contractors and subcontractors

There is time. (2)

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) | about 3 months ago | (#47309269)

These rules are tentative, and Amazon is a long way off. By the time Amazon is ready, I think these rules will be modified.

Re:There is time. (1)

Warhawke (1312723) | about 3 months ago | (#47309561)

Part of getting "ready" is ensuring that you are in compliance with the rules. Amazon cannot be "ready" if the rules are subject to modification, because they have nothing by which to comply.

So would leasing the drone count? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47309295)

Lease the drone to the end user with stipulations not to tamper with the hard/software for the duration of the flight?

It was a dumb idea, anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47309319)

The FAA puts the kibosh on something that wasn't practical to begin with.

Deliver packages by Hong Kong post instead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47309335)

Its very cheap. Also Thai post is very cheap.

Karel Kulhavy Twibright Labs [twibright.com]

Drone delivery (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47309373)

So much for me getting my pizza delivered by drone!

anything new (2)

TheCarp (96830) | about 3 months ago | (#47309375)

I didn't check the actual article but, from the summary, this sounds like same old same old.

Drone use has been limited to non-commercial recreational use. This is not new, this has been the state of things for a while, we have seen several articles on it. I don't see how this adds anything new except to point out that Amazon's plan, wouldn't be legal under current regulations.

This seems kind of navel gazing as it was a) obvious and b) everybody has been expecting those regulations to change in the near future.

Was there really anyone who expected amazon would start such deliveries before the obvious and well known regulations that forbid it changed? I certainly expected all their plans were aimed at being ready for the opening of the floodgates and not an attempt to jump ahead of them.

Send in the NSA (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 3 months ago | (#47309421)

Let them put together a way to spy on all drone package delivery data, and boom, the FAA will suddenly approve Drone Package Delivery.

The FAA lacks jurisdiction (4, Interesting)

gavron (1300111) | about 3 months ago | (#47309437)

This has been debated before but here's the recap.

An administrative judge ruled in 2013 that the FAA does not have the authority (in other words it has not been given this authority by Congress) to regulate model aircraft including balsa-wood planes, paper-airplanes, radio-controlled (r/c) planes, helicopters, quadcopters, hexacopters, etc. This is established fact. The FAA elected NOT to appeal this.

The FAA has attempted to levy _one_ fine against someone flying a 'drone' (see above for disambiguation with quadcopters, hexacopters, etc. and realize it's the same thing) and THAT was the time the administrative law judge shot them down and hard.

The FAA can write whatever they like in the Federal Register.
Step 1: Get Congress to give them the authority. Until then the FAA lacks jurisdiction*.
Step 2: Get Congress to fund enforcement actions under this authority. Until then the FAA won't [be allowed to] enforce anything.
Step 3: Profit.

Ehud
commercial helicopter pilot
Tucson AZ US

* A previous poster said that "if you can put a piece of paper between it and the ground the FAA has jurisdiction." This is not true. The FAA's jurisdiction comes not from simplistic experiments with tree bark pulp and thin slots, but from the Code of Federal Regulations. It's all in there. Too boring to quote tho.

Re:The FAA lacks jurisdiction (3, Informative)

maccodemonkey (1438585) | about 3 months ago | (#47309707)

The FAA elected NOT to appeal this.

Factually incorrect:
http://www.mondaq.com/unitedst... [mondaq.com]

And:
"The appeal stays the ruling. This leaves the enforceability of the commercial-drone ban -- at least for the moment -- up in the air."

Re:The FAA lacks jurisdiction (1)

Warhawke (1312723) | about 3 months ago | (#47309769)

The FAA has attempted to levy more than one fine against people. Pirker was just a high publicity case because of the fact the administrative judge overturned the fine. They have appealed that case and are continuing to issue fines in the meantime to other commercial operators. The FAA is also fining hobbyists as well (look up "Zablidowski"). All of these fines are based (poorly) on a 1980s-era Advisory Circular that sets forth guidelines for hobbyists. Now the FAA is using the advisory guidelines as actual law, as if it had passed a comment and review period, to enforce its fines. The theory goes that a commercial operator cannot be defined as a hobbyist, so the guidelines do not apply, meaning that no law exists on record for drone operation, therefore we can construe that the absence of law means the activity is prohibited. It's obviously legally ridiculous, but it's not completely far-fetched. Congress has authorized the FAA to regulate drones, and has repeatedly require them to write administrative laws for drone operation. The Congressional mandate even goes so far as to require the FAA write privacy rules, which I would like to keep the FAA away from my Fourth Amendment rights, thank you very much. But that is an argument for another time. The premise is that the FAA has the authority to regulate drones by Congressional mandate -- they just keep missing the deadline, and are using their absence of rules as an enforcement mechanism.

Re:The FAA lacks jurisdiction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47309849)

An ALJ is pretty low on the totem pole of judges. Beyond this, are you saying that the FAA can't regulate ANY sort of unmanned vehicle, or that they can't regulate model aircraft below a certain weight or wingspan?

Amazon must be jumping with joy (1)

spyke252 (2679761) | about 3 months ago | (#47309445)

So, this is a win for Amazon. They get free publicity for the holiday season from the announcement to use drones, and they don't have to deliver (pun not intentional) because of the mean old geezers of the FAA.
I have to wonder: was that their plan all along?

Corporate profits and business transactions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47309507)

All cities and towns file articles of incorporation within their respective states.

This means that all cities and towns are corporate entities designed to make a profit by conducting business transactions.

Laws and ordinances are created within these cities and towns to further the corporate business of making a profit.

When municipal law enforcement arrests you or gives you a citation, such that it requires you to pay remuneration to the corporation, they are acting in the business interests of their employer, the municipal corporation.

Ergo, municipal corporate law enforcement operation of a drone "in the furtherance of a business purpose", to wit, the assessment of fines to be remunerated to said corporation, "does not fall within the statutory requirement of recreation or hobby purposes" and is, therefore, illegal.

Thank you, FAA, for spelling out the illegality of all municipal corporate law enforcement operation of any drone for the purposes of revenue generation for that corporation.

No parking-enforcement drones.
No traffic-law-enforcement drones.
No building-code-enforcement drones.
No water-usage-enforcement drones.
No horticulture-enforcement drones.

No drones allowed for any ordinance which has the sole purpose of revenue generation for the municipal corporation.

Gee, about the only category left for the municipal corporation to claim for legal use is...

HUNTER-KILLER DRONES.

Thank you very much, FAA, for all your hard work.

-Corporal Clegg

Can we clarify this already? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47309573)

If the aircraft operator requires physical visible sight of aircraft to maintain aerial function, or does not have a video or operational data streamed back to their position to maintain flight, they are operating a model aircraft. If it is anything other than this, it is a drone.

Why does the media have a hard on for calling anything that flies via remote control, a drone?

A Modest Proposal. (1)

Darth Snowshoe (1434515) | about 3 months ago | (#47309753)

What if, instead of delivering a package, it just delivered a pizza? That would be good. There wouldn't have to be any package involved.

I'd eat a pizza that wasn't in a package.

Typical (1)

tmosley (996283) | about 3 months ago | (#47309859)

Governments squash innovation. News at 11.

Far too dangerous (2)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | about 3 months ago | (#47309979)

This was actually a very smart regulation. The fact is, the newspapers likely would have ended up filled with stories of people who had gotten a buzz cut or even seriously injured after being hit by a drone. The idea of sending a drone into neighbourhoods and relying on a computer algorithm and finicky electronics, hoping that nothing goes wrong and that it can avoid hitting something, perhaps even killing someone, is bonkers. There are too many things that can go wrong. A bug in code, a bad sensor reading, or simply something not being where it is expected to be, could send the thing headfirst into some kid riding his bicycle.

Always thought this was a joke anyway (1)

BenJeremy (181303) | about 3 months ago | (#47310035)

Seriously... who the frack thought this would EVER be practical? It's like that nonsense "beer delivery" drone - except there was no way that drone could deliver a 6-pack, let alone a case of bottled beer to anybody. Range, payload, maintenance, control, and fuel all mean a big "NO" to delivering packages by "drone" for at least the next few decades.

It's a JOKE. Apparently, a brilliant one, because slashdotters still believe that something useful could be delivered in a practical manner this way.

I'm against it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47310045)

Air travel is a terrible idea in general. There is too much stuff living in the air that needs to be there, especially bugs, for lots of automated air traffic to make sense.

Man, even cars should be traveling in high speed underground tubes, not making life a living hell on the surface. So, more noise and fuss above ground? No thank you.

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