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article imageAmazon is testing delivery drones at a secret Canada site

By James Walker     Mar 30, 2015 in Technology
Amazon is reported to be testing and developing its new drone delivery service at a secret site in Canada amid growing frustration with the U.S. government's prohibitive attitude towards the technology.
The Guardian was invited to visit the unknown location in British Columbia where the retailer has been conducting outdoor drone flights for the past few months. It has the full authorisation of the Canadian government to run frequent experimental flights along a plot of open land said to be lined by oak and fir trees and located only 2,000 feet from the US border.
Amazon eventually intends to fly drones weighing less than 55lbs through air corridors 10 miles or longer at speeds of up to 50mph. The drones would be able to carry packages weighing in at a total of up to 5lbs. Deliveries of this weight account for around 86 percent of the company's total orders.
In the future, the company will offer customers the ability to have their orders dropped directly onto their doorstep by an autonomous drone within 30 minutes of paying online. As long as no accidents occur, it is easy to see how this could quickly become popular with consumers in urban regions.
The company is now working on making this possible with a team of roboticists and aeronautic engineers including a former Nasa astronaut and the designer of the wingtip of the Boeing 787. The more open Canadian culture means that the group can work to fine-tune the features of the drone delivery system and get it ready for a safe and successful launch in the future.
Amazon has previously expressed strong discontent with what it sees as a "lethargic" effort by the U.S. government to create effective regulation of drones. A senior Amazon executive spoke to a U.S. Senate subcommittee just last week, warning that America could lose hundreds of millions of dollars in investments if regulators continued to impede Amazon's efforts to create a drone delivery service.
The Federal Aviation Authority has so far proven to take a lot more time to reach conclusions on drones than its counterparts in Europe and Canada. Although Amazon now has FAA approval to test delivery drones, the company's decision to continue development of "Prime Air" across the border highlights how the U.S. is now hindering efforts to use drones for good. Many are now suggesting that the revelation should be a "wake-up call" to America who has previously led the world in aviation development.
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