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The Seattle Times reports that Paul Misener,’s vice president of global public policy, told a US Senate subcommittee yesterday that the type of drone approved for testing last week by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is an "older design" that already is outdated.

Amazon has "innovated so rapidly that the (drone) approved last week by the FAA has become obsolete,” Misener testified to the Senate Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security. “We don’t test it anymore. We’ve moved on to more advanced designs that we already are testing abroad ... “Nowhere outside of the United States have we been required to wait more than one or two months to begin testing, and permission has been granted for operating a category of UAS, giving us room to experiment and rapidly perfect designs without being required to continually obtain new approvals for specific UAS vehicles."

The Times writes that "Misener used the example to make the point that U.S. regulators are moving too slowly in the rapidly evolving commercial development of drones, which he called UAS, or unmanned aircraft systems. Amazon has said it’s testing drones in countries such as the United Kingdom, where governments have quickly created rules to allow it to conduct extensive research and development."

The story also says that "Misener’s written testimony also offered a few new details about Amazon’s drone development. The drones, first revealed by Chief Executive Jeff Bezos in late 2013 in an interview on CBS' '60 Minutes,' will fly below 500 feet and 'generally above 200 feet,' except for takeoff and landing. The craft will weigh less than 55 pounds. And Misener said the company will be able to operate it from distances of 10 miles or more."
KC's View:
I'm actually sympathetic to the FAA in this case, since the story makes clear that it actually is struggling with how to regulate technology that is advancing very, very quickly. The FAA also knows that if it goes too fast and there is an accident, there will be hell to pay in the halls of Congress. And, there are privacy and terrorism questions that need to be considered.

To be fair, Misener told the subcommittee that the FAA is getting better and faster ... though, one presumes, not nearly fast enough for Amazon.

I'm also intrigued by the fact that I continue to get email from readers who are not persuaded that the drone issue is even real. One MNB user recently wrote:

Are you being taken in by this drone garbage?  How long will they be able to continue to deliver by drones, when enterprising “entrepreneurs” stake out the deliveries and steal the drones?  How long will it take for someone to sell Amazon Drone controllers (on Amazon) and to crack the code so they can be turned into sellable units?  Amazon isn’t making money now, how will they be doing when their delivery costs have to factor in AWOL drones???  I guess the story is getting them PR that their business can’t...

All reasonable questions ... but to assume there aren't answers, that this is just some sort of PR stunt, is a serious miscalculation.