Tech giants Google and Amazon are pursuing plans aimed at developing private drone air traffic-control network. This will be for low-level altitudes with the main use of the drones being to make deliveries. The drone air traffic control network would be independent of the Federal Aviation Administration and would also be privately funded. Besides Google and Amazon other firms which are backing the plan which was outlined earlier in the month during a conference include Boeing and General Electric.
Per a Wall Street Journal report, automated web and cellular applications would be used in tracking and preventing collisions among the drones. For Amazon, the move is part of the online retail giant’s plans to have packages delivered within half an hour using the aerial aircraft. Google’s vision is also similar as it intends to have all drones communicating their positions or locations to a computer system which is centralized and which is available to other operators with a view to avoiding collisions.
The tech giants are working on these efforts in conjunction with NASA and tests are expected to be conducted in the next couple of months at several sites. According to an air transport technologist at NASA, Parimal Kopardekar, totally new solutions will be devised but will be driven by the industry and not the federal government.
During the test flights the efforts will be aimed at figuring out how the drones would interact and work on a network. It is expected that this will take a minimum of two years since policy and engineering hurdles could pose a challenge. Additionally the tech giants will need to collaborate with the FAA’s existing human controllers and ground-based radars.
Online video streaming
The involvement of Amazon in the efforts to develop air traffic control systems for drones coincides with moves the online retail giant is making in India in a bid to grab a larger market share in online video streaming. Among the things Amazon is planning on doing include increasing local content.
“We want to figure out how do we do more in the South. We haven’t announced any originals yet from the South but we are looking to do as much as can be done,” Amazon’s head of content in the Asia Pacific region said in an interview with Reuters.
Currently India is Amazon Prime Video’s fastest growing market. The second-most populous country in the world is important for the global ambitions of Amazon as its entertainment and media market is expected to growing from $22.7 billion to $31 billion by 2020.