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Keeping up pressure for drones

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AMAZON is going on the offensive as it seeks U.S. federal approval to test its planned Prime Air drone-delivery system.

You are not likely to get a Prime Air drop on your porch any time this year, or even next, but the online retailer, which announced plans for drone delivery last December on 60 Minutes, is making moves to spur development.

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Amazon recently banded together with several makers of small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to create a coalition to speed federal action. And the e-tailer is also buttressing its lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill.

"Amazon Prime Air is participating in several groups... that share Congress's goal of getting small UAVs flying commercially in the United States safely and soon," said Paul Misener, the company's vice-president of global public policy.

Such efforts are needed, because the advance of commercial drones covers a swath of federal agencies including the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, which governs airspace, and the Federal Communications Commission, with oversight of communications frequencies drones would use. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy also has rules in the works regarding privacy.

"This is uncharted territory," said Chris Anderson, co-founder of drone-maker 3D Robotics. His firm joined Amazon, DJI Innovations and Parrot in founding the coalition. The group aims to represent commercial uses of drones, establish a code of conduct and educate the public about benefits of the technology, he said.

 

-- USA Today

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 18, 2014 B7

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