Amazon may be the company that brought the idea of drone-based deliveries to the spotlight, but current regulations in the United States are making the testing and implementation of such a system incredibly difficult. In an effort to speed up the regulatory process, Amazon has suggested that a 600 foot stretch of airspace be assigned to drone flights, which would be enough to separate drone traffic based on travel speed while also preventing drones from interfering with other types of air traffic.
Amazon wants to flood the sky with drones. At a NASA conference, the company suggested assigning a 600ft drone airspace for the robots to fly in, with high-speed drones flying between 200ft and 400ft, while slower traffic keeps below. To avoid aircrafts, drones won’t fly above 500ft, says the proposal. The retail giant foresees a future where drones deliver packages through Amazon Prime Air, but current U.S. laws forbid the commercial use of drones due to lack of regulation. To that end, the Federal Aviation Commission has tasked NASA to come up with a drone version of air traffic control, developing a system for watching and managing in-flight drones. Of course, in the case of traditional air traffic, the availability of air traffic controllers determines how many planes can fly at once. For drones this presents a problem since a large amount would be in the air simultaneously. Amazon agrees there should be a central agency overseeing drone flights, but to counter this problem the company also proposes having autonomous drones with pilots on standby. These controllers will each oversee a fleet of drones, maximizing the amount that can be in the air.