Any company betting on long-distance commerce via drones better rethink their strategy: the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued draft rules that forbid commercial drones from flying out of view of their operators.
That ruling could ding Amazon, Google and other tech giants that are developing autonomous drones capable of delivering small loads over long distances. Amazon is reportedly “dismayed” by the ruling, according to The Guardian. “The FAA needs to begin and expeditiously complete the formal process to address the needs of our business, and ultimately our customers,” the e-commerce company wrote in a statement to the newspaper.
The FAA’s other proposed rules for drones: vehicles must weigh less than 55 pounds, not operate over clouds, and never exceed 100 mph or fly above 500 feet.
It may take a few more years before the FAA finalizes its regulations for unmanned aerial vehicles, and those rules could change, especially if Amazon and its ilk lobby for relaxing the ban on autonomous flight. In the meantime, any startup with an idea for a drone-based business can probably continue with it—provided the drones never leave the operators’ sight, and don’t enter a no-fly zone.