Business

Thursday 29 September 2016

Amazon in talks with aviation authority as race to deliver by drone moves up a gear

Published 12/06/2016 | 02:30

Amazon's move comes as competition intensifies between retailers and delivery companies over future of drone-powered delivery (Stock picture)
Amazon's move comes as competition intensifies between retailers and delivery companies over future of drone-powered delivery (Stock picture)

Amazon has contacted the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) - as the race to be the first retailer to deliver parcels by drone heats up.

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The online merchant recently made contact with Ireland's air traffic policing service as it bids to expand testing zones.

"Yes, Amazon has been in touch with us," said an IAA spokesman. "It has made enquiries. If Amazon or anyone else can demonstrate that it can operate drones safely then we are open to discussing the use of drones commercially in Ireland."

Amazon's move comes as competition intensifies between retailers and delivery companies over future of drone-powered delivery. At present, Irish aviation law requires drone operators to seek licences and permission for drone flights. But the IAA, which interprets and enforces drone law in Ireland with the Garda Siochana, has not yet received a sufficiently developed proposal to allow it to give permission for drone delivery flights.

Globally, drone-powered deliveries are expected to number 7m this year. DHL delivers packages by drone in Switzerland while WalMart is said to be preparing a service that would see products delivered using the miniature flying devices.

At present, there are estimated to be more than 6,000 drones in Ireland. Commercial use of the flying machines, which typically cost between €600 and €5,000, is rapidly increasing among farmers, photographers and real estate executives.

"We use a drone primarily for counting stock," said Mark Dunne of the Galway-based Murray Timber Group.

"Timber stock is very large and the sites tend to be very large. The easiest way to count it is to put the drone up. There's a significant cost saving involved."

The IAA recently gave permission for Donegal Mountain Rescue to use drones with thermal imaging systems to locate people in emergency situations.

"We expect to gain a deeper understanding of how aerial technology best adds value to emergency service providers in different scenarios, environments and conditions," said a spokesman.

Sunday Indo Business

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