Amazon finally got permission to test its Prime Air drones in the U.S. last week, but it turns out the approved model is already obsolete. Speaking to the Senate on Tuesday, Amazon blamed the Federal Aviation Administration for taking too long to update its rules, especially compared the other countries.
Amazon’s VP of global public policy Paul Misener explained that the company has already innovated beyond the Prime Air drone it originally introduced. “We don’t test it anymore,” he said. “We’ve moved on to more advanced designs that we already are testing abroad.”
He goes on to note that it took the FAA over a year to grant Amazon permission to test its drones, compared to the one or two months it typically takes for government regulation to catch up outside of of North America. Misener adds that the FAA’s recent regulations are “more restrictive than are the rules and approvals by which we conduct outdoor testing in the UK and elsewhere.”
The FAA’s rules limit Amazon’s drones to flying no higher than 400 feet. They also have to be in sight at all times, and the company has to provide monthly updates to the government agency. That’s a good start, but clearly it’s not enough.
If Amazon Prime Air is going to become a reality in the U.S., the government will need to catch up with the industry’s rapid speed.