Amazon is now testing its prototype delivery drones at a secret facility in Canada, reports on Monday have revealed.
The Guardian was invited inside the base in British Columbia, where the firm is focusing its operations after receiving little co-operation from regulators in the United States.
The company has bought open land, just 2000ft north of the US border, where it is conducting operations with the permission of the Canadian government
There the firm has for months been conducting frequent outdoor flights with a “formidable team” of experts including roboticists, software engineers, aeronautics experts, a former NASA astronaut and the designer of the Boeing 787 wingtip. The Guardian reports it was shown a drone that can take off and land vertically and fly horizontally.
Under its planned Prime Air initiative, Amazon wants to use UAVs to autonomously deliver small packages (under 5lbs) to homes within 30 minutes of the order. The sub-55lbs drones would travel at around 50mph, above buildings, but below the airspace used by commercial planes.
The shift across the border preceded the company’s recent outburst over the lack of support it has received from the Federal Aviation Administration on home soil.
New rules relating to the commercial use of drones have hindered the retailer’s progress. The recent outdoor testing permit granted to Amazon related to an old prototype, and strict restrictions placed on flights have rendered it practically useless.
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Amazon’s Paul Misener told the paper: “We think that this new technology will provide huge benefits for our customers, who we think will love it, and for society more broadly. Why would we wait?”
Amazon has warned the U.S. faces being left behind if it fails to recognise the potential of commercial drone use.