The UK could be one of the first places to put Amazon’s plan to deliver goods by drone into practice, CEO Jeff Bezos has suggested.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Telegraph published on Sunday, the 51-year-old entrepreneur praised the UK’s regulatory approach to drones, citing it as a “very encouraging example of good regulation.”
America is far stricter when it comes to regulating unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) than the UK. When Amazon got FAA permission for trials in the US in March 2015, the tech it related to was already obsolete.
Bezos refused to say definitively which countries Amazon’s Prime Air delivery service would launch in first. “What I would say is that in the scheme of things the UK regulatory agencies have been very advanced. The FAA [the US aviation regulator] is catching up a little here in the US, but the UK has been, I’d say, a very encouraging example of good regulation. I think we like what we see there.”
We shouldn’t expect to see drone deliveries in 2015 however. “Months sounds way too aggressive to me,” Bezos said, “so the timescale is measured in years.”
Amazon currently operates a research centre in Cambridge, England. According to a previous Telegraph report, transport minister Robert Goodwill says the company approached him “to ask about starting drone trials in the UK because regulations in the US were too restrictive. So much for land of the free.”
Goodwill added that the UK is not just working with Amazon — “[the] Government is working on the whole issue of drones. We’re meeting with the British Airline Pilots Association and we’re both keen to innovate.”
As drones rapidly move from niche hobby to consumer product and commercial opportunity, the UK is determined to carve itself out a major slice of the pie. Drone entrepreneur Giles Moore told The Guardian that “a lot of countries already use the UK’s regulations on drones as a benchmark.”
It’s easy to see why the UK is so interested: Analysts predict that the market for drones will grow to more than $US80 billion by 2025, according to CBS.
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