Affiliate Disclosure
If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Read our ethics policy.

Amazon Prime Air building drones to cope with different environments, may launch overseas

Amazon's drone-based Prime Air delivery service will have an array of craft to deal with different climates and environments, though the company is still devising solutions to other problems and could end up launching outside the U.S. first, according to a new interview.

Drones deployed to dry regions like Phoenix will be different from ones used in rainy areas like Orlando, Amazon's VP for global public policy, Paul Misener, explained to Yahoo. Different vehicles will also be used to navigate around skyscrapers versus suburbs, although the company has yet to solve the problem of delivering to people in apartment buildings, who don't have yards to serve as convenient landing pads.

Misener did promise that drones would be as quiet as possible, and that they would be programmed to avoid colliding with trees. The executive dismissed worries about people shooting down deliveries, suggesting that people can shoot at trucks too and that the novelty of Prime Air drones will wear off.

Since the service doesn't yet have a legal framework to operate in, Misener said that Amazon has been proposing an airspace division in which manned aircraft would fly over 500 feet, while drones in fast transit would be restricted to between 200 and 400 feet, with the intervening space serving as a safety buffer. Under 200 feet, drones might be limited to operations like takeoff, landing, or photos and video.

These ideas have been presented to "regulators around the world," according to Misener, including the FAA and NASA in the U.S. The latter two groups haven't gone along with Amazon's ideas however, and Misener suggested that while the company wants the U.S. to be the first country with Prime Air, the service may launch elsewhere if it can't get the regulations it needs.

Another unresolved issue is pricing, as it's not clear if Prime Air delivery will cost extra. Likewise, especially with regulatory confusion, there's no firm timeline for when the service will be ready.