Amazon announced last December that it was building a fleet of drones that would be able to deliver packages to your front door. The announcement was made via an episode of 60 Minutes, featuring an extended interview with Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s billionaire founder and CEO.
“We like to pioneer, we like to explore, we like to go down dark alleys and see what’s on the other side,” Bezos said at the time.
Interestingly, Bezos said nothing about where the drones would be launched first. Today, though, rumors are swirling that Amazon’s drone program has found a home—in India.
It would be technically feasible right now to deliver small packages short distances in the United States. But the Federal Aviation Administration has yet to issue guidelines on commercial drone use, and without those guidelines or rules, delivering packages via drone is illegal—not to mention likely pretty dangerous.
Back in December, Amazon acknowledged there would be regulatory hurdles to overcome, but many people (myself included) still assumed Amazon was posturing for good press by talking up their proposed drone ideas.
Today India’s English newspaper, The Economic Times, reports that two sources close to the project have confirmed that Amazon will pilot its drone delivery service in India. According to the report, Amazon chose India because of the country’s relatively lax aviation rules.
“India is an attractive test bed for Amazon because the country still hasn’t woken up to the need for rules that will govern the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs),” the article explains. “In the U.S., on the other hand, companies such as Amazon are not allowed to fly drones outdoors.” Specifically, the article says Mumbai and Bangalore will be the first cities to try out the service.
The company has not commented publicly yet on the claim, but we’ll update if and when it does.
Also, it’s worth mentioning that today’s report did not include a specific start date to the program, so it’s anyone’s guess when Indians can actually begin to use the service. In April, however, Bezos claimed that testing was already underway for the drone service.
“The Prime Air team is already flight testing our 5th and 6th generation aerial vehicles, and we are in the design phase on generations 7 and 8,” he wrote in a letter to shareholders.
Interestingly, Bezos left out where they’re being tested.