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Amazon Seeks US Exemption To Test Delivery Drones

Soulskill posted about two weeks ago | from the i-thought-asking-forgiveness-was-better dept.

Government 155

angry tapir writes: Amazon.com has asked the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration for permission to test drones outdoors for use in its Prime Air package delivery service. In the run up to launching the service, which aims to deliver packages in 30 minutes or less, the online retailer is developing aerial vehicles that travel over 50 miles (80 kilometers) per hour, and will carry 5pound (2.3 kilogram) payloads, which account for 86 percent of the products sold on Amazon. They need to ask permission because the FAA specifically banned such behavior last month.

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155 comments

Open Season! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47431663)

I'm gonna bag me some books and Blu-Rays!

Re:Open Season! I'm gonna pop some drones (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about two weeks ago | (#47432635)

I'm gonna pop some drones

only got 20 rounds in my pockets

gonna get some CDs and some jerky

this is (FCC DELETED) awesome!
 

I wear your granddad's clothes,

They look incredible.

I got them from a drone

That Amazon flew above the road
 

They should call Dubai (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47431671)

And see if they'll let them do a demo run in their domed future dystopia.

Why in America? (3, Insightful)

gurps_npc (621217) | about two weeks ago | (#47431679)

Can't they just do the testing in Canada? Or some other country that hasn't created this law?

Seems like they are more interested in getting a foot in the door to revoke the rule, rather than testing.

Re:Why in America? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47431751)

Can't they just do the testing in Canada? Or some other country that hasn't created this law?

Because we're not the fucking dumping grounds for trying out stuff which is illegal in the US?

God Americans are self entitled assholes.

Re:Why in America? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47431797)

Re:Why in America? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47431831)

Those experiments were done in the name of National Security, and drone testing doesn't fall into that categ...oh wait!

Re:Why in America? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47431805)

You don't want the jobs that would create?

Re:Why in America? (1)

Herder Of Code (2989779) | about two weeks ago | (#47431905)

Well, our job market is rather good right now, we skipped the whole mortgage thingy in 07-08, so no we're not super excited about hosting things that are illegal in the states.

Re:Why in America? (2, Funny)

NatasRevol (731260) | about two weeks ago | (#47431967)

Like prostitution?

Re:Why in America? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47433095)

Don't forget the drugs. I mean, crack smoking mayors tend to go to jail in the US.

Re:Why in America? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47432181)

No we didn't escape it. I live in Toronto and apartments/condos dropped 50% in a matter of six months because no one was buying/renting. Many are still empty because they don't have any takers.

Re:Why in America? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47432969)

I'm in Toronto too. The price drop didn't help much. Condos are still expensive as fuck.

Re:Why in America? (2)

kheldan (1460303) | about two weeks ago | (#47431875)

Hey now that's not very polite of you, are you sure you're Canadian? Isn't it against some national law or something for you to be publicly rude?

Re:Why in America? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47432173)

It is against both international treaty and domestic laws for Canadians to be rude in public to foreigners unless we have been extremely provoked over an extended period of time (it is best to wait years - Canadian Courtesy Judges are quite mean to Canadians when applying the extended period of time section of the law) ....but their is a blanket exception in the case of any American government entity, corporation, collection of more than 25 Americans, individual Americans of note, and any concept or plan originating from America that may signifigantly negatively affect Canada or Canadians.

Re:Why in America? (1)

kheldan (1460303) | about two weeks ago | (#47432849)

Okay. We'll just turn a blind eye when Russia invades your poutine-eating, hockey-obsessing, lager-swilling asses.

Re:Why in America? (2)

dreamchaser (49529) | about two weeks ago | (#47433101)

I'll buy that when you agree to take Justin Bieber back. Having him inflicted on the US is tantamount to an act of war.

Re:Why in America? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47432085)

Can't they just do the testing in Canada? Or some other country that hasn't created this law?

Because we're not the fucking dumping grounds for trying out stuff which is illegal in the US?

God Americans are self entitled assholes.

Yes you are. For example, weed. We tested it up there, liked how it worked out, and now brought it into a few of our states.
 
Sorry if you don't like reality.

Re:Why in America? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47431827)

Amazon are patent trolls. You answered the question.

Re:Why in America? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47431877)

Seems like they are more interested in getting a foot in the door to revoke the rule, rather than testing.

That's actually what's going on. What amazon (and google and facebook) truely want is regulations that make it hard for competition in this market segment. They've been playing a chess game for quite a while on this. All of the FUD articles about drones crashing into stuff is actually carefully chosen cases publicized to turn the public against "unregulated" drones, therefore requiring regulations to be written, and guess which three companies have been clamoring to congress that they have the expertise to help craft such regulations? Surely they'll have no problem complying with their own regulations, meanwhile any small business that tries to start up, or complains about the regulations, amazon can then say "they need to follow the regulations, their drones aren't safe, ours are", and use the sheeple to crush any startups.

Robber Barrons 2.0 (1)

mariox19 (632969) | about two weeks ago | (#47432389)

This has been the favored business model of big players in this country since before the railroads. From what I can gather, it began with the canals. Monied interests get in bed with politicians and use the law to squeeze out everyone else. I think you're absolutely right. And none of us should be surprised when Amazon, whose web services host a number of government departments, and whose CEO owns one of the two major newspapers in the country, is granted an "exception."

This is how the crooked game is played.

Re:Why in America? (2, Interesting)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about two weeks ago | (#47432419)

That's actually what's going on.

I doubt that very much. This bears repeating, for about the fifth time recently here on Slashdot:

A Federal NTSB judge has ruled that Congress did not give the FAA authority over small low-altitude drones, commercial or otherwise. The Federal law explicitly gives the FAA authority over "aircraft" in "navigable airways", which are by definition routes used by planes that carry people. These are usually high-altitude except for areas near airports and heliports. Further, "aircraft" (because of the "craft" part) means a vehicle that carries people. So there are at least two different passages in the law that very clearly limit FAA authority to commonly-traveled airways and people-carrying aircraft within them.

The court ruling has been stayed pending appeal, but the FAA has tried to regulate everything it could get its hands on before it is (almost surely) smacked down by the appeals court. I say almost surely because the "authority granted by Congress" argument is strong and the judge made his case pretty clearly.

My guess is that these companies are (quite intelligently) betting on the FAA losing in appeals court.

Re:Why in America? (2)

BradleyUffner (103496) | about two weeks ago | (#47432515)

Your definition of "clearly" is very different than most people's I think... Sure, if you separate the word Aircraft in to "Air" and "Craft" you might be able to argue that one of the words could mean a manned vehicle. But when taken as a single word "Aircraft" has nothing to do with being manned or not. Every definition I can find is basically "A vehicle capable of atmospheric flight due to interaction with the air, such as buoyancy or lift."

Your argument really feels like the kind of games sovereign citizens and other conspiracy theorists play when they find "loopholes" in the law that will make them rich or allow them to not pay taxes.

Re:Why in America? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about two weeks ago | (#47432747)

Sure, if you separate the word Aircraft in to "Air" and "Craft" you might be able to argue that one of the words could mean a manned vehicle.

It isn't my idea. It was the judge's reasoning about the intent of Congress when they wrote the law. Which is, in fact, pretty clear.

Even if you discount his reasoning about what Congress meant by "aircraft", the word "navigable" is not ambiguous at all: in this context it means passages that can be navigated by person-carrying vehicles.

Re:Why in America? (4, Informative)

Obfuscant (592200) | about two weeks ago | (#47432937)

Your definition of "clearly" is very different than most people's I think...

It also differs considerably from what is found in federal law. 14CFR1 [ecfr.gov] :

1.1 General definitions. Aircraft means a device that is used or intended to be used for flight in the air.

That says nothing about carrying people. The difference between airCRAFT and airPLANE is also clear, same section:

Airplane means an engine-driven fixed-wing aircraft heavier than air, that is supported in flight by the dynamic reaction of the air against its wings.

The airPLANE is a fixed-wing heavier than air airCRAFT. That means that airCRAFT includes hot air balloon, gliders, and yes, drones. And even the definition of airplane does not include a requirement that people be aboard.

But wait, quadcopters aren't fixed-wing, so are they covered?

Helicopter means a rotorcraft that, for its horizontal motion, depends principally on its engine-driven rotors.

So drones are helicopters, unless they're the fixed wing version. And gosh if the FAA doesn't have the authority to regulate flight of helicopters.

Now what about this "high altitude" limit on the authority of the FAA? Sorry. That's just nonsense. There is well-established case law that the FAA can (and does) regulate the use of aircraft down to the surface. 14CFR91 [ecfr.gov] is the federal law covering general operating and flight regulations, and is applicable as follows:

91.1 Applicability. (a) Except as provided in paragraphs (b) and (c) of this section and ÂÂ91.701 and 91.703, this part prescribes rules governing the operation of aircraft (other than moored balloons, kites, unmanned rockets, and unmanned free balloons, which are governed by part 101 of this chapter, and ultralight vehicles operated in accordance with part 103 of this chapter) within the United States, including the waters within 3 nautical miles of the U.S. coast.

Notice that "aircraft" clearly includes kites and even moored balloons, because these had to be specifically exempted from coverage by this part that covers "aircraft".

And 14CFR91 contains rules that apply to aircraft all the way to the surface of the earth. For example, Class B, C, and D [faa.gov] airspace extends from the surface up to the specified altitude (it differs), and the "Mode C Veil" extends from the surface up to 10,000 MSL for a distance of 30 miles from the applicable airport. Thirty miles. And 14CFR91.131 [ecfr.gov] clearly says:

91.131 Operations in Class B airspace. (a) Operating rules. No person may operate an aircraft within a Class B airspace area except in compliance with Â91.129 and the following rules:

That kinds makes it clear that the FAA has authority to regulate aircraft from the surface. That cite is just one example of many.

There is no "high altitude" limitation to the rules, and the only reference to "high altitude" that I know of deals with a class of VOR [faa.gov] that has a "Standard High Altitude Service Volume". The only thing that "high altitude" might refer to is as a lay description of Class A airspace, which runs from 18,000 feet MSL up to flight level 600 (about 60,000 feet MSL). Note that there are also Class B, C, D, E, and G airspaces which the FAA regulates, so there is a lot of precedent for FAA regulation well below "high altitude". Many of the FAA rules contain an exemption similar to "except as required for landing or takeoff", which also make it clear that the FAA has the authority to regulate aircraft activity at well below "high altitudes", since landings almost never occur at high altitude.

Your argument really feels like the kind of games sovereign citizens and other conspiracy theorists play

Yes. Loopholes based on lay use of terms that are specifically defined in the regulations.

Re:Why in America? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47432601)

Seems similar to what happened over the last few years when Amazon was supportive of the Marketplace Fairness Act and other efforts to tax e-commerce. Many believed it would allow them to get their foot into the door much easier when expanding to different states for wharehouses / distribution centers in addition to adding another hurdle that smaller e-commerce sites would have to get over (or utilize a service provided by someone else such as Amazon payments).

Re:Why in America? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47431887)

This service not available in Canada

Re:Why in America? (1)

Joe Gillian (3683399) | about two weeks ago | (#47431899)

If I had to guess, it's because Amazon doesn't want to have Canada pass a law or regulation banning commercial drone use the same way the FAA did. If they were to go to Canada, the media there would likely report that they're doing it to skirt US regulations, and that could cause all kinds of bad PR for Amazon. The attention would also likely cause lawmakers in Canada to consider a similar ban, pointing at the FAA ban as precedent.

Re:Why in America? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47431949)

Because the guy doing the building and designing is in the US? He can't really move, his wife runs a local charity/research center. He's a nice gentleman, and his prototypes have been working very well, he also has a drone reservation already, which has no air traffic through it.

Re:Why in America? (0)

LifesABeach (234436) | about two weeks ago | (#47432153)

I cannot help but wonder the outcome when a drone flys through an area where cell phones are blocked.

Re:Why in America? (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about two weeks ago | (#47432663)

It's illegal due to privacy rights that Canadians have (in their Constitution) to do this in Canada, according to their Supreme Court.

And, actually, Canucks have twice the guns per capita, so the drones would survive even less time.

They just don't shoot people with handguns or automatic weapons.

Re:Why in America? Noooooooooo!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47432981)

Can you imagine MILLIONS of drone deliveries? Some of those drones are going to crash! Who will they land on. This is a STUPID idea!

Then Google... (0)

slash0r (3734763) | about two weeks ago | (#47431685)

will ask exemption too to improve their maps...

Ballsy (3, Insightful)

Dins (2538550) | about two weeks ago | (#47431687)

Well that's pretty ballsy. "Yeah, we know you banned this with us in mind, but....can we do it anyway?"

Ballsy (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47432139)

More like 'Yeah, we knew you were going to try this, and we're gonna block it until we get our bribe"

Re:Ballsy (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about two weeks ago | (#47432179)

You're assuming the reasoning wasn't "We know you banned this with us in mind - so here's the bribes you were counting on us paying so we can do it anyway"

Re:Ballsy (1)

OhPlz (168413) | about two weeks ago | (#47432313)

Ballsy is banning it without any intent to develop regulations or to even consider if regulations are necessary.

Let us think... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47431693)

"Sure you can test it. We still won't approve it for commercial use."

Shrug. (4, Interesting)

jaseuk (217780) | about two weeks ago | (#47431703)

Maybe Amazon should work with Google to build a locker on wheels using the self-driving car chassis. That seems a far more useful and practical long-term solution.

Jason.

Re:Shrug. (1)

Guspaz (556486) | about two weeks ago | (#47431733)

Cars have to deal with traffic. Amazon already has same-day delivery by road in some cities, but not in 30 minutes.

Re:Shrug. (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47431813)

Order your stuff same-day at 11:30pm to get it in 30 minutes.

Re:Shrug. (1)

craighansen (744648) | about two weeks ago | (#47432831)

Drones had better learn to deal with traffic, too.

Re:Shrug. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47432889)

They already do. Google has had self driving cars for years.

won't work (4, Insightful)

CosaNostra Pizza Inc (1299163) | about two weeks ago | (#47431755)

With the amount of gun owners in this country AND the number of paranoid, conspiracy nuts here; how many of those drones will make it to their destinations?

Re:won't work (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47431785)

Yeeehaaaww skeet shooting with prizes!!!!!!

Re:won't work (3, Insightful)

Billy the Mountain (225541) | about two weeks ago | (#47432063)

Yeah! An' an' a free three year stay in th' crowbar ho-tel!

Re:won't work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47431855)

Depends on the county.

http://damnjetpack.tumblr.com/post/74383793861/anti-uav-sign-in-deer-trail-colorado-matt

Re:won't work (3, Interesting)

paysonwelch (2505012) | about two weeks ago | (#47431903)

They are most likely asking permission from the FAA to fly the drones at altitudes of around 1,000+ ft (not sure about the actual regulations) but this would be high enough that you would have to be a really good shot AND have a long range rifle. The thing is that most people aren't good shots let alone at that distance and compounding the fact that it's going to be a moving target at 50MPH.

Re:won't work (1)

CosaNostra Pizza Inc (1299163) | about two weeks ago | (#47432679)

Good point, and that would work. I assume drone-deliveries would not be door-to-door.

Re:won't work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47432653)

I know there's a good chance that if they send one to my neighborhood they won't get it back. I am surprised that someone as smart as Jeff Bezos can actually think people want corporate owned drones flying around our neighborhoods.

Re:won't work (1)

jeIIomizer (3670945) | about two weeks ago | (#47432833)

Paranoid? Conspiracy nuts? Have you seen what the government and corporations do? They don't care one bit about privacy.

Visualing this? (1)

sycodon (149926) | about two weeks ago | (#47431761)

I'm having a hard time visualizing how this is going to work..

Will I see these things flying over my neighborhood at 300 feet and then drop down to my front door?
Will the package be left on the lawn?
If they have 20 deliveries to my 600 home neighborhood, will they send 20 drones or send a few drones multiple times?
What is the range of these drones?
Will they send a text or call and essentially say, "come and get it?"
Wind? Rain? Construction (cranes, concrete pumpers, other tall equipment. Trees?
Automated or manned? Will there be Job postings or drone pilots?

Re:Visualing this? (2)

PPH (736903) | about two weeks ago | (#47431817)

If they have 20 deliveries to my 600 home neighborhood, will they send 20 drones or send a few drones multiple times?

Submunitions [wikipedia.org]

Re:Visualing this? (1)

beltsbear (2489652) | about two weeks ago | (#47431825)

I think that is what needs to be worked out by testing.

While the FAA is probably not going to allow any of this, 300' would be too high as helicopters can be in that zone.

If the FAA were to approve it (which they wont), it would have to be at a low height like 50' or less, limited weight, lots of safety features, human observation, not allowed in winds and probably a ton of things I have not thought of.

One could make a foam covered, enclosed fan drone that could do the job that would do little (but not zero) damage if it failed. The problem is that it would still weigh something and could in a failure fall uncontrolled into anything.

Re:Visualing this? (3, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | about two weeks ago | (#47431829)

Given the accuracy of GPS, it'll probably wind up on your roof, up a tree, or down the chimney, which means it'll still be an improvement over Yodel.*

*Substitute infamously incompetent carrier for your region here.

I kid, but seriously, a mail order that's installing lockers and authorised delivery points every few hundred yards and seriously talking about flying fucking robots as an improvement in service is a damning indictment of the package delivery business.

Re:Visualing this? (1)

MindStalker (22827) | about two weeks ago | (#47431873)

He's my vision, though I haven't been able to get Amazon to think about it..

Truck drives down neighborhood road slowly. Drones enter and leave the back of the truck as it drives delivering packages to houses within a 500 feet distance.

Truck can skip every other road or so.

Re:Visualing this? (4, Interesting)

SenatorPerry (46227) | about two weeks ago | (#47432195)

You are making this too complicated.

They drive a truck with a wireless mast and a flat bed to your neighborhood. It will simply deliver all the packages one at a time based on GPS to your home. The driver of the truck will monitor and manually adjust as needed. A single person will have a 20-30 second job and then wait for the drone to buzz when the next package is at a home. With a good range on the truck you can cover several miles with one person without the need for utilizing a delivery service. A single person may also be able to handle 4-6 drones at once. They hover until the driver is able to deliver the package to the door.

Once delivered they will do the normal confirmation email. Regarding cranes and other items, it is required to register and have a beacon light on masts of a certain height. It will just need to be entered as a no-fly zone or a minimum elevation zone. Regardless, the drones don't just go from A-B. They can sense nearby objects. If one happens to be taken out, the driver just drives to the location to retrieve it. Maybe has a ladder... Nothing really complicated.

Re:Visualing this? (1)

CosaNostra Pizza Inc (1299163) | about two weeks ago | (#47432705)

I imagine they would have designated pick-up and drop-off facilities. Otherwise, someone is more likely to shoot them down during assent/descent.

Government control of our lives... (4, Insightful)

mi (197448) | about two weeks ago | (#47431769)

They need to ask permission because the FAA specifically banned such behavior last month.

Gone are the days, when pursuit of happiness was understood as a natural right granted to each human being not by their government, but by the Creator.

Today one must get a permission to drive a car, carry a weapon, perform in costume [nymag.com] , or, indeed, to fly a drone.

And this prohibition does not even come from Congress directly — having usurped so much control over our lives over the last century, they are simply unable to deal with the minutiae and are forced to delegate more and more of the rule-making to the Executive-run agencies — such as the FAA.

Re:Government control of our lives... (5, Insightful)

RobinH (124750) | about two weeks ago | (#47431845)

I thought the idea was that you had that right, but only up to the point where it infringes on someone else's right to the same. So, for instance, you being an idiot and driving your car over a pedestrian infringes on their right to the pursuit of happiness. You see, when it comes to behaviors that put others at significant risk, why only punish the ones who were unlucky enough to have the negative outcome actually happen, when the act of performing the risky behavior was what you had control over, and what you should be prevented from doing in the first place? Similarly, Amazon flying drones over residential neighborhoods sounds pretty risky to me, even though I do appreciate the coolness of being able to have something delivered in 30 minutes. Therefore I'm not sure this ban is such a bad thing until we can prove suitable precautions are being taken.

Re:Government control of our lives... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47432345)

Therefore I'm not sure this ban is such a bad thing until we can prove suitable precautions are being taken.

Define suitable. I deem it suitble that you are restrained and never write anything online ever again because my feelings could be irreparably damaged. No amount of safety features in the car prevents the fool from running you over, and once you're dead you can never get back your freedom. What right have you to restrict others from enjoying their freedom to kill? If you don't want to be killed, don't go outside, and employ suitable protection in the form of a hiered guard or firearm.

The truth is that there are no rights, only restrictions. In the absence of all rules there is nature. In nature you are not limited in your doings, even if they be detrimental to others -- Especially so, elsewise competition and natural selection wouldn't have gotten very far. There is complete freedom to act without any rules. This is where freedom comes from. Freedom is a natural state of being. Free peoples agree to accept some restrictions such that they may employ the hiered guards (police/military) to defend the common interest against obvious harm. However, laws can be made which are frivolous: It's illegal to own too many sex toys in texas, or to fish from the back of a camel.

Because the rules are all restrictions to some freedom they must be constantly tested, and overturned. This has been taken from you. The citizens had one check and ballance against the legal system: Jurry Nullification. Now judges ask jurors before accepting the jury if they will rule according to the law at hand, and they will dismiss the jury that would nullify the law.

Furthermore your ability to weigh in on what laws restrict you has been taken from you. This Prinston study shows that the common free man has no sway over their government, who was entrusted to employ the armed guards which enforce the laws you are subject to. You are no longer free to influence this system of restrictions then the contract is broken. You have no legitimate government. Your follow restrictions while the elites grant each other exceptions: A law is that which is applied universally.

Thus, you now live in a lawless world, without freedom. Even the absolute highest freedom, To take ones own life, has been taken from you by those that farm you. The farmers don't think it wise for the chattle to kill themselves since they can still be milked by medical companies. The livestock shant be granted the techonology or armarmant that the farmers employ, lest they rise up. A watchful eye is needed to shackle intelligent beasts.

A clever ruse that it is "rights" and not "restrictions" that come from on high, can sometimes ease the bitter medicine of reality. I feel sorry for you, but you don't have my pitty.

Re:Government control of our lives... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47432487)

http://economyincrisis.org/content/a-princeton-study-finds-the-obvious-we-are-a-plutocracy

Re:Government control of our lives... (1)

mi (197448) | about two weeks ago | (#47432421)

you being an idiot and driving your car over a pedestrian infringes on their right to the pursuit of happiness

Sure. And any such idiots ought to be punished — and have their right to drive a car suspended. But this has nothing to do with the preventive prohibition — which is what the license requirement amounts to.

You see, when it comes to behaviors that put others at significant risk

Risky driving — or drone-flying — can be prohibited. People engaging in it may lose their right to drive (or fly drones) at all — or be punished otherwise — that's fine and normal. What I do not approve of, however, is the preemptive requirement to have a government's permission to do anything.

why only punish the ones who were unlucky enough to have the negative outcome actually happen

Because determining, what's really risky and what is not, is only a little bit easier, than detecting a murderer before he kills...

Similarly, Amazon flying drones over residential neighborhoods sounds pretty risky to me

It does, huh? You don't mind the thousands-pounds piloted aircraft flying above your all day, you don't mind the trucks driving around all day (delivering the same stuff), it is the light drones, that keep you awake at night?

not sure this ban is such a bad thing until we can prove suitable precautions are being taken

That, right there, is the key to our disagreement. You want everybody, who wish to fly a drone, to prove, they've "taken precautions". I don't believe, you ought to have the power to impose such a requirement. The burden of proof [wikipedia.org] ought to be on you.

Now, that was philosophical. Now comes the more practical. Amazon being the 800-pound gorilla, can afford to argue with the government — they can not be ignored. They even managed to get the USPS to offer Sunday delivery — though now it seems available to all [usps.com] .

But the FAA simply killed other attempts to use drones — such as for the delivery of flowers [cbslocal.com] . The barrier to entry — to start competing with the incumbent behemoths — was upped, and we the consumers are losing. No wonder, Amazon aren't suing to overturn the FAA's decision — any favorable overcome would apply to all. They are merely asking for exception — for themselves. Crony capitalism [wikipedia.org] much?

Re:Government control of our lives... (1)

RobinH (124750) | about two weeks ago | (#47432823)

That, right there, is the key to our disagreement. You want everybody, who wish to fly a drone, to prove, they've "taken precautions".

I don't think this is as black and white as you seem to indicate. Nobody's stopping me from building a drone in my garage and even flying it out in a field, as long as I follow some reasonable restrictions that were setup based on experience with model airplanes. The restrictions are on commercial use, and the FAA is basically saying: these things are dangerous when you fly them over a population, and we need rules in place with proper safety procedures before it's allowed. That seems pretty reasonable to me. Yes, I wish they would hurry up. However, what are the chances that these drones are designed such that in the event of a failure, the likelihood of hurting someone on the ground is mitigated? Does every system have 1 or 2 backup systems? Doubtful. Has anyone done an analysis of how dangerous the impact will be? What's the likelihood of surviving a direct hit? What's the likelihood of it happening? Is there a safe reference design? Are there regulated auditors who can certify these designs against a published specification to certify them for flying over a population? Certainly when I build an industrial machine there are published standards regarding machine safety that I have to adhere to, and I must have the design stamped by a P.Eng. before the machine can be used in a production environment.

I'm all for this technology, but I know human nature when it comes to people willing to put other people in harm's way to make money. The FAA is right to ban these, for the moment. Amazon should be working with the FAA and other stakeholders to draft a proper set of rules to allow flying these things over a residential neighborhood. This is hardly unreasonable. The "anything goes" mentality is just BS.

Re:Government control of our lives... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47431907)

Ah, but here you are mistaking the difference between a corporate entity and a person.

Unless you believe Citizens United the rights of a corporation are different than those of a person.

Re:Government control of our lives... (1)

Motard (1553251) | about two weeks ago | (#47432331)

Ah, but here you are mistaking the difference between a corporate entity and a person.

Unless you believe Citizens United the rights of a corporation are different than those of a person.

There really is no difference within this context. If I have a lemonade stand and would like to deliver lemonade by drone I would be subject to the same regulations as Amazon. Just as I'd be subject to health department regulations like Applebee's is.

Re:Government control of our lives... (1)

rhodium_mir (2876919) | about two weeks ago | (#47431953)

Gone are the days, when pursuit of happiness was understood as a natural right granted to each human being not by their government, but by the Creator.

Which days were those?

Re:Government control of our lives... (0)

jpellino (202698) | about two weeks ago | (#47432237)

"Which days were those?" Judging from his sig, probably any days between 7/21/1788 and 1/20/2009...

Re:Government control of our lives... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47431959)

"Gone are the days ..."

And what days were those, exactly? 1850, say, when personal happiness was a Natural Right? ... As long as you were legally a person and didn't need to ask your owner's or husband's permission? Those days?

Re:Government control of our lives... (2)

HBI (604924) | about two weeks ago | (#47431997)

So we got rid of human slavery but are forced to endure ...human slavery? Is that your argument?

Re:Government control of our lives... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47432111)

Fuck yourself and die.

Re:Government control of our lives... (1)

retchdog (1319261) | about two weeks ago | (#47432399)

snarky, but yes, basically. slavery has gotten a lot nicer over the years, and it isn't just insidious mind control (there's a bit of that too). life has actually gotten better.

anyway, the actual point you have missed was that the idea of returning to some pristine state of freedom is platonist nonsense. there never was such a thing.

Re:Government control of our lives... (1)

PvtVoid (1252388) | about two weeks ago | (#47432413)

So we got rid of human slavery but are forced to endure ...human slavery? Is that your argument?

Very true. Having to be licensed to fly a commercial drone over residential areas is slavery, plain and simple.

It's "pursuit of happiness" (2)

jsrjsr (658966) | about two weeks ago | (#47432311)

The founders of the US didn't say that anyone had the right to "personal happiness" -- just the right to pursue it. And no one can prevent you from pursuing happiness. The best they can do is make sure you never achieve it.

Re:Government control of our lives... (1)

mi (197448) | about two weeks ago | (#47432447)

1850, say, when personal happiness was a Natural Right?

Happiness was never a right. Pursuit of it was.

As long as you were legally a person and didn't need to ask your owner's or husband's permission?

Yes, as long as you were legally a person.

That a personhood was unjustly denied to some was a travesty, but it has nothing to do with my argument.

Re:Government control of our lives... (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about two weeks ago | (#47432109)

They need to ask permission because the FAA specifically banned such behavior last month.

Gone are the days, when pursuit of happiness was understood as a natural right granted to each human being not by their government, but by the Creator.

And if my pursuit of happiness involves not having some noisy-ass quadcopter fly 50 feet over my house every time the neighbor orders a new bauble?

You forget, that whole "pursuit of happiness" meme has to be reconciled with the concept of, "unless it infringes other's right to the same."

Re:Government control of our lives... (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about two weeks ago | (#47432125)

You still can do pretty much any of those things on your own land, just as you could in the 1800s. You can build your own gun, drive an unregistered car, and perform practically any work for your own personal enjoyment.

What part of liberty allow you to do anything you damned well please on *somebody else's* property? Cause if you think you can fire a gun or perform Shakespeare or ride your 4 wheeler in my back yard then FUCK YOU! Because that's the American way.

Re:Government control of our lives... (2)

ravenscar (1662985) | about two weeks ago | (#47432191)

While I agree with the spirit of your post in many ways, this is different as it involves airspace. If you own property, you have certain rights to the air over it. When flying things were an obvious link to the future it became necessary to think about the world in a new way. It wouldn't be practical for flying things to obtain rights of passage from every property owner. Similarly, the rights of property owners to the sanctity of their airspace had to be considered. Someone had to think about how to govern the air. Congress could, but it would be far too involved and require far too many frequent changes for Congress to do an effective job. As such, provisions were made to delegate this authority to the FAA. This is similar, in spirit, to the FCC which also governs things (radio waves) that enter your property with or without your permission.

I agree with your concern about concentration of power in the Executive Branch, but with the pace of change in this particular space, I just don't see a preferable alternative. Perhaps dividing the organizations - rules created by a committee that is appointed by and reports to Congress with enforcement remaining in the Executive Branch. Still, I imagine this would result in unacceptably slow rule changes and updates by the rule makers.

Re:Government control of our lives... (2)

penix1 (722987) | about two weeks ago | (#47432329)

OK... Let's just burst your anti-government bubble there..

They need to ask permission because the FAA specifically banned such behavior last month.

Gone are the days, when pursuit of happiness was understood as a natural right granted to each human being not by their government, but by the Creator.

To start with, you are confusing your documents. The quote you give is from the Declaration of Independence not the Constitution which is the document establishing our government. Next, you assume that there is a "Creator". All I got to say is show me. Lastly, your rights end where others rights begin. It would be pure anarchy otherwise as I will demonstrate below.

Today one must get a permission to drive a car, carry a weapon, perform in costume [LINK OMITTED], or, indeed, to fly a drone.

Drive a car: So in your world you would allow everyone, regardless of demonstrated ability to do so, drive a car on public roads? Sounds like a plan to me... A plan for death and mayhem that is. Besides, this is State government not Federal requiring the license. If you had actually read the Constitution, you would know that States have far more power to regulate than the Feds.

Carry a weapon: Again in your world, convicted violent offenders should be allowed weapons even while they are in prison for murder? I also bet you believe that you should also be allowed nuclear weapons too right?

Perform in costume: That is a city ordinance. Again, not fed and not even State. I am sure NYC has a reason for that ordinance, take it up with them.

Fly a drone: There have been many instances where these drones have caused passenger airliners to almost crash. The more they are allowed, the higher the probability will become that one will cause a crash. One can only hope you are on the plane that crashes because of it. Again, your rights end where others begin. That is the job of these agencies. They oversee the public spaces such as airspace.

And finally, may I make a suggestion? If you really, really want less government, then move to Somalia. I am sure they will welcome you with open arms (pun intended).

Re:Government control of our lives... (1)

TC Wilcox (954812) | about two weeks ago | (#47432473)

And finally, may I make a suggestion? If you really, really want less government, then move to Somalia. I am sure they will welcome you with open arms (pun intended).

Somalia once had a strong (and oppressive) central government. It collapsed. Somalia is an example of what happens when strong, oppressive central governments collapse. Telling people who want less government to go to a Somalia may seem pithy, but it really just shows ignorance of history.

Re:Government control of our lives... (1)

retchdog (1319261) | about two weeks ago | (#47433077)

Yeah, as opposed to all those functional anarchies in the world.

Go work on seasteading or the NH Free State Project; make it work and give us positive examples if you don't like Somalia.

Highway funds (1)

tepples (727027) | about two weeks ago | (#47432525)

Besides, this is State government not Federal requiring the license.

Congress forces the states to incorporate certain uniform provisions in traffic laws, such as a drinking age of 21. It does this by bribing the states with "highway funds" taken from citizens of other states under authority granted through the postal and commerce clauses.

Perform in costume: That is a city ordinance. Again, not fed and not even State. I am sure NYC has a reason for that ordinance, take it up with them.

In the case of dressing up as an identifiable character from a non-free work of fiction, it could be a Lanham Act violation or copyright violation, which is federal. But otherwise, such an ordinance amounts to a dress code for appearing on public sidewalks. How would I go about searching for what other cities have an analogous ordinance?

Re:Government control of our lives... (1)

PvtVoid (1252388) | about two weeks ago | (#47432387)

They need to ask permission because the FAA specifically banned such behavior last month.

Gone are the days, when pursuit of happiness was understood as a natural right granted to each human being not by their government, but by the Creator.

Mod parent up. We all know that God specifically wanted airspace full of unlicensed pilots operating entirely without rules. Yeee Haw!

Re:Government control of our lives... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47432955)

This isn't insightful, the sentiment is inane.

We live in a world of people, besides various other forms of life. What makes you happy comes at the risk of being myopic. When we hunt, it's not survival of the fittest - it's who is lucky so there are farms for repopulating. Recently, someone in Canada was found guilty for manslaughter because they stopped for ducks on a highway without bothering to so much as turn on the hazard lights. We stop people from painting with lead for a reason...

Permission for a given activity doesn't ensure competency - it's what we allow without facing a truely overbearing state with constant checking that would utterly stop drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

All these measures are positively reflected in our increased life span. While you might be capable at a given time and instance, there are others who are not and clearly lack the sense and/or ability to know better.

Re:Government control of our lives... (1)

GPS Pilot (3683) | about two weeks ago | (#47432965)

Gone are the days, when pursuit of happiness was understood as a natural right granted to each human being not by their government, but by the Creator.

Everyone understands that this is a fundamental tenet of the founding documents of the United States, but that doesn't prevent it from being quietly ignored by those who, say, disparage the Constitution as "a charter of negative liberties." [usnews.com]

Promo stunt (3, Insightful)

djupedal (584558) | about two weeks ago | (#47431775)

Amazon is just looking to get in on yet another news cycle. Maybe charlie rose is ready to fawn all over them again...

Re:Promo stunt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47432967)

Agreed. I don't think Amazon has any intention of actually using drones to deliver packages. But they are (successfully) getting a lot of publicity for Amazon Prime.

Kiki vs Ramona (1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47431789)

I'll take cute girls on Roller Skates or Cute Witches on Brooms....

Press quotes (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about two weeks ago | (#47431803)

Jeff Bezos was quoted as saying "C'moooooooooooooooooon!", and promising lawmakers that he would "totally let them have a go driving it" after he did some "sweet loops".

We have to get away from instant gratification (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47432161)

Nothing from Amazon requires 30 minute delivery. We, as a society, need to get away from the ideas like "delivery in 30 minutes", "one hour photo", etc. Everyone lives on microwave time now. They will complain when it takes 60 seconds to warm something up in one. Seriously? You are complaining about 60 seconds? People need to learn patience. Especially, the young people.

I do not see 30 minute delivery as a beneficial in any way. So there will be Amazon drones, Walmart drones, Monsanto drones, etc. Who will get the right-of-way? This nonsense needs to be shut down now. Tell Jeff that he can stick with standard delivery trucks to ship his products.

captcha: unaware

Re:We have to get away from instant gratification (3, Insightful)

OhPlz (168413) | about two weeks ago | (#47432359)

What are you doing on Slashdot? Subscribe to a magazine that covers stories like this, write your letter to the editor and wait a month for a possible response. You're so impatient posting on a site where you can get near-immediate feedback. This nonsense needs to be shut down now.

Re:We have to get away from instant gratification (2)

PvtVoid (1252388) | about two weeks ago | (#47432405)

Nothing from Amazon requires 30 minute delivery.

Well, almost. [amazon.com]

Tell me how this is suppposed to work. (1)

westlake (615356) | about two weeks ago | (#47432393)

In the run up to launching the service, which aims to deliver packages in 30 minutes or less, the online retailer is developing aerial vehicles that travel over 50 miles (80 kilometers) per hour, and will carry 5pound (2.3 kilogram) payloads...

30 minutes at 50 mph = 25 miles out from the warehouse and a one hour round-trip.

It's difficult to see the market for this service as anything other than single family residence, upper class suburban.

25 miles out from the Amazon regional "distribution center" seems just about right --- and at ten runs a day per drone, you are shipping a bare 50 pounds of cargo a day per drone.

Weather permitting.

How do you make this pay?

Re:Tell me how this is suppposed to work. (1)

Khashishi (775369) | about two weeks ago | (#47432949)

It's a marketing ploy, not a logistical development.

Re:Tell me how this is suppposed to work. (2)

Aqualung812 (959532) | about two weeks ago | (#47432951)

How do you make this pay?

The customer pays. You can have it free in two days, tomorrow for $5, or in 2 hours for $30.

That's $300 per drone per day, plus the reduction in paying FexEx to do it.

I think there are enough people that would pay $30 for something NOW.

Re:Tell me how this is suppposed to work. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47433065)

30 minutes at 50 mph = 25 miles out from the warehouse and a one hour round-trip.

Why from the warehouse? What prevents them from putting a bunch on a lorry with a town's worth of packages and letting them loose? Now the truck doesn't have to navigate a whole bunch of streets. Use your imagination.

It's difficult to see the market for this service as anything other than single family residence, upper class suburban.

So 90% of their volume. Got it.

25 miles out from the Amazon regional "distribution center" seems just about right --- and at ten runs a day per drone, you are shipping a bare 50 pounds of cargo a day per drone.

10 runs a day? Where did you pull that out of? Your butt? If the delivery is 30 min or less they can do 24 runs in a day - MINIMUM. Automate battery pack switching every time it docks in for another package. They could probably have as many as 40 runs in a day depending on ....

Weather permitting.

True of any type of delivery mechanism. Next?

How do you make this pay?

You're adorable. This is a huge company. They employ smart people. You can safely assume it will pay.

I see another set of patents coming out of this (1)

Geste (527302) | about two weeks ago | (#47432537)

Amazon.com patents "A method to petition Federal agencies for permission to test drones outdoors for use in a campaign to further hype the company and erect barriers to competitive drone-delivery buzz."

More skeet targets for me (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about two weeks ago | (#47432583)

Dang but I'm going to have fun!

It's my airspace - when you decided to fly over it with a privacy-disabled drone, you made your drone MY property.

Ancient Chinese Proverb (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47432729)

A man comes to the Emporer with a flying machine newly invented and offers it to the Emporer. The Emporer destroys the flying machine and has the man beheaded. If that technology ever got out, they would fly over China and commit war. Paraphrasing..

Where would it end if they get this exemption?
NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO no no no...

ITT Tech (1)

zlives (2009072) | about two weeks ago | (#47432811)

Meet Chuck, a drone mechanic and a DARN good one.

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