Amazon delivery drones grounded by FAA's new aviation rules

FAA says drones can’t fly at night, and must be within sight of their operators at all times

The prospect of Amazon and Google drones delivering packages to your door is looking unlikely after a US aviation body set out its proposed rules governing drone flight.

Drones must be within sight of their operators at all times, as the technology is not advanced enough to avoid crashes without human intervention, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has ruled.

And while they can reach speeds of 100mph and climb up to 500 feet in altitude, they cannot fly over crowds and cannot fly at night dramatically limiting their potential for commercial operation in cities.

FAA administrator Michael Huerta said: "We have tried to be flexible in writing these rules. We want to maintain today's outstanding level of aviation safety without placing an undue regulatory burden on an emerging industry."

The news follows attempts by the FAA to ban drone activity in June 2014.

However, the body still believes drones can play a huge role in advancing several industries including farming, search and rescue and urban planning.

It sees use cases for drones in aerial photography and mapping, crop monitoring and inspecting infrastructure like bridges and tall buildings.

Despite these roles, the FAA's proposed rules pour cold water on Amazon's ambitions of using drones to deliver packages to people's doors by around 2018.

Google is also innovating in this area, but wants to be able to operate drones in disaster zones.

Astro Teller, captain of moonshots at Google, told the BBC last summer: "Even just a few of these, being able to shuttle nearly continuously, could service a very large number of people in an emergency situation."

Amazon has expressed disappointed with the FAA's plans, according to the Guardian.

Paul Misener, VP of global public policy for the company, told the publication: "The FAA needs to begin and expeditiously complete the formal process to address the needs of our business, and ultimately our customers."

However, the FAA predicts that within three years of the rules being passed, more than 7,000 businesses will get drone permits.

It is not likely that the rules will be finalised for another two or three years.

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