Amazon, Google plan air traffic network for drone deliveries

Updated 2018-03-13 10:15:09

Amazon and Google want to develop their own air traffic control network for drone deliveries.

The plan was unveiled at a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) conference last week and has the backing of major companies including Amazon, General Electric, Boeing and Google, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Separated entirely from the current federal system, the privately funded and operated network will include a slow lane for local traffic below the altitude of 200 feet (61 meters) and a fast lane for long-distance delivery at 200-400 feet.

The head of Amazon's drone-delivery division, Gur Kimchi, told Bloomberg that drones should fly within the altitude of 400 feet.

According to regulations of the FAA, the maximum allowable altitude for small unmanned aircraft is 400 feet above the ground.

Kimchi said that drones for long-distance flying must give notice of their schedule and destination, and they need to be connected to the Internet.

Also, drones that can fly for long distances need to be equipped with sensors to detect birds and other hazards not in the centralized database, Amazon said.

The original idea of the private unmanned traffic management network was first suggested at a conference with 1,000 attendees by Parimal Kopardekar, senior air-transport technologist at NASA.

The two tech giants will work with NASA to conduct tests on the network over the next three months.

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