American and Chinese companies have been immensely interested in drone-based deliveries these past couple of years, which makes sense considering how those two countries have the largest e-commerce markets in the world, but it looks like the Chinese companies have just been dealt a major blow. While American companies have been working closely with regulators to find a happy middle ground between safety and convenience, Chinese regulators have decided to completely ban drone-based deliveries in urban areas, which is where such deliveries would be the most-useful.
Is drone delivery the future of ecommerce? That’s an open question, but the concept looks to be taking a big blow in China this month, with authorities slated to roll out regulations that will reportedly ban urban drone delivery. Currently, drones exist in a relatively unregulated space in China. But at the General Aviation Development Summit in Beijing last week, China Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) secretary Ke Yuyu revealed that a new set of draft regulations on drones are due to be released this month. These new rules have already been passed by China’s Civil Aviation Administration and are currently in the middle of other approval procedures. As they stand, the regulations don’t look good for those who were hoping that drones would one day replace China’s fast-delivery bike couriers. Ke says the regulations would require registration and aviation authority approval for drones over 25 kg (55 lbs), and drones capable of carrying cargo or weighing more than 150 kg (330 lbs) would be subject to even more stringent restrictions. But passing those restrictions won’t change things for ecommerce players, because according to Ke the regulations ban drone delivery outright in congested urban areas.
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