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The New York Times reports this morning that the development of drones as a commercial tool continues, as German logistics company DHL is planning a monthlong test of a drone - called a parcelcopter - to "ferry medicine to Juist, a sparsely populated island off the northwestern coast of Germany."

To be clear, DHL is not seeing this as a program with mass implications. The story says that DHL see the drones as being "used in special situations — in remote locations, for example — where it is more cost-effective to use an unmanned aircraft than to send a delivery van or a bike messenger … The deliveries will take place when alternatives, like the local ferry or aircraft services, are not available. When DHL’s drone, which weighs just under three pounds, lands on the island, one of the company’s couriers will then deliver the packages to local residents, a spokeswoman said."

That's different from the approach being taken by companies such as Amazon and Google, which believe that there is a much broader potential for the use of drones as delivery vehicles. To this point, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) disagrees with them, banning such uses, which is why they are testing the technology in Canada and Australia.

Still, the FAA may be becoming a little less intransigent.

Variety reports that the FAA has said it will allow the use of drones on TV and movie locations, granting a waiver "to six aerial photo and video production companies to use the unmanned aircraft in production. The FAA determined that the drones do not need an FAA certificate of airworthiness based on a finding that they do not a pose a threat to national airspace users or national security."

According to the story, "The FAA approval comes with restrictions: the unmanned aircraft can be used only in closed sets. A certified pilot must operate the drones, and they will be allowed to got up to 400 feet, within sight lines. Productions must give the FAA notice of their use, so the agency can inform air traffic control in that region."

Variety noes that while productions filmed outside the US - like Skyfall - have used drones for filming, this is a first for inside the US.
KC's View:
It is hard for me to imagine that the FAA won't at some point allow some limited testing of drone delivery services in the US … in some markets and in some cases, it will just make sense. The film production waiver is just the first step in chipping away at traditional ways of doing business, and continued development strikes me as inevitable.