Amazon.com, Inc. is proposing a “drone zone” to make low-altitude airspace safe for drone delivery. The aim is to ask the officials to create rules for below 500 ft or Class G airspace, to effectively handle the rising demand of unmanned aerial vehicles and drones.
How the air space can be divided?
On Tuesday, Speaking at the NASA Unmanned Aerial Systems Traffic Management convention, Gur Kimchi, vice president of Amazon Prime Air, suggested that the airspace below the 500 ft can be divided into segments for different types of traffic.
“It’s completely doable,” Kimchi told Bloomberg News.
Kimchi said 0 to 200 ft, which is around an 18-story building in height, can be used for low-speed traffic supporting consumer drones. From 200 to 400 ft, high-speed transit can be given a license such as drone deliveries, fire-fighting etc. And the remaining 400 to 500 feet would be kept free as a buffer zone to drones away from the usual planes and other manned vehicles. And to avoid crashes, air space users will have to use state-of-the-art technology.
“We can only be safe and efficient if everybody else is safe and efficient,” Kimchi said.
As of now, drones are not allowed to fly over 200 ft. Michael Drobac, executive director of the Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Coalition, told USA Today, “People are going to be asking why they can’t fly above 200 feet,” adding “There have to be certain areas where certain operators can operate without causing problems.”
Amazon not in favor of single air-traffic operator
Similar to Google Inc. , Amazon.com notes there should not be a single air-traffic operator for the drones. Kimchi said any firm should be allowed to participate as long as central computer system has info on the all the flying drones. Head of Google’s Project Wing division, Dave Vos told Bloomberg previously that more than one firm should be allowed to develop drone air-traffic systems.
A team at NASA is heading the efforts to come up with a drone air-traffic system. Over 100 firms are eager to work with NASA on its efforts while around 14 have already signed deals with the agency to work it including names such as Google, Amazon, Verizon and Harris Corp.
Kimchi did not provide a time frame when such a system will be ready, but noted mobile phone networks can be used for the purpose.
On Tuesday, Amazon shares closed 1.01% at $529.03, and year to date the stock is up almost 70% while in the last 12 months stock is up over 62%.