As It Happens

Amazon operating ‘secret’ drone testing facility in BC, after delays in U.S.

Amazon, the world’s largest online-only retailer, is doing its delivery drone testing in Canada because it can’t get permission to do so in the United States.
This undated image provided by Amazon.com shows the so-called Prime Air unmanned aircraft project, which is being tested in British Columbia. (The Associated Press)

Amazon, the world’s largest online-only retailer, is doing its delivery drone testing in Canada because it can’t get permission to do so in the United States.

But that’s a good thing, says Diana Cooper. The Ottawa-based lawyer, who specializes in drone and robotics law, says that the U.S. is behind the curve when it comes to regulating the use of drones, which are becoming increasingly more common in our skies.

Amazon plans to use drones to deliver packages “the last mile” to homes, Cooper explains to As It Happens host Carol Off. The unmanned aircraft, which would weigh around 25 kilograms, would deliver packages to the porches of homes, which has led to some concerns that accidents could result in packages being dropped where they shouldn’t: on property or people.

But Cooper says drones have been flying in Canada for more than a decade, and they’ve proven to be reliable and safe. She likens concerns to those that people had when cars were first introduced for use among horses and carriages.

She adds that NASA is working on a system that would create “highways” at the altitudes drones fly -- typically between 60 and 150 metres -- similar to the road networks below.

“The Jetsons age is definitely coming,” she says.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now