Less than 24 hours after Jeff Bezos floated the idea of delivering packages via airborne drones, the notion was met with balking by regulators and skepticism from the shipping industry. The Federal Aviation Administration said Monday it doesn’t allow any commercial unmanned flights now, and judging by guidelines sketched as recently as Nov. 7, it won’t allow the robotic trips envisioned by Bezos. United Parcel Service Inc., the largest shipping company, said it too has met with drone vendors and for now is content to stick to terra firma. Bezos’s vision of selling books on a nascent Internet turned Amazon.com Inc. into the world’s largest online retailer, and his resulting $35.4-billion-US fortune has let him pursue other big ideas, such as space flight. While he showed Sunday in a TV interview that Amazon’s prototype “octocopter” is able to deliver a small package, regulators have yet to be convinced the world is ready for robots with eight whirring propellers to drop in on suburban driveways.
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