E-commerce and tech giant Amazon has moved just north of the Canada-US border to test drone technology.
The Guardian, which visited Amazon's secret site in Canada, reports that the move comes after the company felt like regulators in Washington were dragging their feet over the use of the technology by private firms. The answer, head across the border.
Amazon has acquired a plot of open land lined by oak trees and firs, where it is conducting frequent experimental flights with the full blessing of the Canadian government. As if to underline the significance of the move, the test site is barely 2,000ft from the US border, which was clearly visible from where the Guardian stood on a recent visit.
The plan is to test the feasibility of using drones to deliver small packages, most of Amazon's deliveries weigh less than 5 lbs.
At the test site drones are being tested in what is described as the sweet spot for small craft aviation, above 200 ft where most buildings end and below 500 ft where general aviation begins.
Drone technology is seen by many tech companies and aeronautics experts as the next frontier for innovation, with billions of dollars potentially in the balance. Traditionally, the US has been at the vanguard of both tech and aviation innovation, but the approach of the the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), a US regulatory body, has been markedly tentative so far compared with that of regulators in Canada and Europe.
The FAA process is viewed as time consuming and cumbersome compared to the Canadian approval which took just three weeks from start to finish.
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