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Last Updated : Dec 03, 2013 12:30 PM IST | Source: PTI

America debates Amazon intent to deliver packages by drones

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is scheduled to issue a ruling on the impact of increased use of commercial drones on the US airline industry by 2015.

The US appeared to have entered into a national debate on the proposal by Amazon CEO to use drones to deliver its packages to homes after a top legislator has raised concerns about privacy protection of American public for such a move.

Also read: Technology, rules keep Amazon drone delivery in hangar

"Before drones start delivering packages, we need the FAA to deliver privacy protections for the American public," US Senator, Ed Markey, said in a statement.

"Convenience should never trump constitutional protections. Before our skies teem with commercial drones, clear rules must be set that protect the privacy and safety of the public," he added.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is scheduled to issue a ruling on the impact of increased use of commercial drones on the US airline industry by 2015.

Earlier on Sunday, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in an interview with the "CBS 60 Minute" that his company could use drones to speed up delivery time in four to five years. This, he said, is a subject of clearance by the FAA.

Last month, Markey had introduced the Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act that would require transparency in the use of domestic drones and privacy protections to ensure that drones cannot be used to spy on Americans.

The FAA recently released a drone use "road map" that disregards the need for federal privacy protections for individuals as drones prepare to take flight in US airspace. "My drone privacy legislation requires transparency on the domestic use of drones and adds privacy protections that ensure this technology cannot and will not be used to spy on Americans," Markey said.

The Microsoft founder Bill gates said that the Amazon's plan to have drones deliver some of its products in four-to-five years is an "over optimistic" timeline.

In an interview to the CNN, Gates said unmanned vehicles in general will have more of an impact on society than people realize - in positive ways.

"Something like books you can get literally at the speed of light, but physical products delivered by drone I would say he is probably on the optimistic or perhaps the over optimistic end of that," Gates told the CNN.

The Microsoft founder said the technology could be used for other purposes beyond Amazon delivery - including low-cost shipments of health supplies to hard to reach places. "It is great that people have dreams like that. If we can make the cost of delivery easier, then its not just books it is getting health supplies out to tough places," he said.

"Drones overall will be more impactful than I think people recognise in positive ways to help society," Gates said.

First Published on Dec 3, 2013 12:30 pm