Amazon Tuesday made a big push for divvying up U.S. airspace to safely and efficiently accommodate drones.
Amazon Prime Air VP Gur Kimchi presented a detailed proposal at a conference on drone traffic management sponsored by NASA Ames Research Center.
Amazon envisions lanes of sorts, akin to highways and local service roads, detailed mapping of known obstacles like buildings and towers, and sophisticated software to allow drones to avoid unknown obstacles like birds, helicopters, and other drones.
This tactic is quite a departure from Amazon’s lobbying efforts at the Federal Aviation Administration. Earlier this year the retail giant complained that the FAA’s approval of its Prime Air drone program is “already obsolete,” and testified before Congress about what it says is the agency’s slow-moving approval process.
Now the company is calling for cooperation, and has done some of the legwork to get things done.
“Imagine the Internet without HTTP and TCP/IP,” Kimchi said. “That’s basically where we are now. So we’re putting our foot down, and we’d like everybody to feel an urgent need to come together and create these standards and adapt them.”
Amazon, of course, is eager to set in motion the drone delivery system that it’s been working so hard on. The retailer hasn’t needed drones to keep the retail world on its toes when it comes to delivery—all the major moves to free or cheaper shipping, same-day, and even one- and two-hour delivery is widely attributed to pressure from Amazon’s big plays in those areas.
It’s hard to know when or even, really, if delivery drones will become a normal part of retail deliveries. But if it does, it will be largely thanks to Amazon.