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Drones may look unlikely for US – but look close to take off in other markets

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Amazon’s longstanding ambition to run its own army of delivery drones looks to have been knocked back with the publication of proposed new rules from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) this week.

The proposals allow for small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) weighing 55lbs or less to be operated only within the line-of-sight of the operator, and without passing over the heads of other people who are not directly involved in the flight. US transportation secretary Anthony Foxx said: “Technology is advancing at an unprecedented pace and this milestone allows federal regulations and the use of our national airspace to evolve to safely accommodate innovation.”

If this proposal is adopted, it would effectively rule out Amazon’s plans to use drones to deliver parcels to customers in the US, though the ecommerce giant is reported to say it is still committed to the technology.

But while Amazon’s plans may have been hit in the US, it’s reported that drones are already being tested by Alibaba as a method of delivery in China, while Google is said to be testing them in Australia.

It’s still to early to know whether drones will become a practical reality in the future, or indeed if retailers will be delivering in the driverless cars that are already being tested in the UK, but what is clear is that technology will continue to look at ways of making delivery and ecommerce ever cheaper.

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