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Leeway for Amazon in New Drone Rules

Jun 23, 2016
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SMITH BRAIN TRUST — The Federal Aviation Administration’s initial, comprehensive set of rules for commercial drones will open the floodgates to tens of thousands of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in U.S. airspace. But these flights still won’t include Amazon Prime flying a package to your front door. However, the new rules include “ample leeway” to make them interpretable as “a good development for ultimate deployment of delivery drones,” says marketing professor P.K. Kannan at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.

The FAA says its regulations will “work to harness new innovations safely, spur job growth, advance critical scientific research and save lives.” The new rules allow daylight flights, within eyesight and below 400 feet, of commercial drones weighing up to 55 pounds.

But drones expert Matt Scassero in UMD’s A. James Clark School of Engineering and director of UMD’s UAS Test Site, told the Baltimore Sun: “Many of the provisions in the (new) rules can be waived if operators can provide regulators with data to show they can fly safely without them. (This) should open the way for drone users to fly farther than they can see. … To really do some of the economical uses of UAS, you would need to go beyond line of sight."

Kannan says Scassero’s point immediately applies to the the likes of aerial photography, utility inspecting and crop spraying. “But this also suggests there is ample leeway for companies such as Amazon and Google, who have been investing heavily in drone technology, to showcase their technology and make test flights over public and congested areas,” he says. “Such demonstrations are necessary for all parties concerned to feel confident about drone technology and its widespread commercial deployment.”

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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business 

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, specialty masters, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.