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Amazon.com plans to shift more of its drone testing outside the U.S. unless it gets quick permission from federal regulators to conduct outdoor trials, the company said in a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration. The Seattle-based online retailer has already started conducting outdoor tests "in other countries with regulatory environments more supportive of small (unmanned aircraft systems) innovation," according to Sunday's letter written by Amazon vice president of global public policy Paul Misener. Amazon says outdoor testing is crucial to developing its "Prime Air" program, which aims to use small unmanned aircraft to deliver packages in 30 minutes or less. It said it preferred to keep that testing within the United States.
In July, Amazon sought permission from the FAA to test drones in outdoor areas near Seattle, where one of its research and development labs is working on the technology, but the FAA has been slow to give its approval. "Without approval of our testing in the United States, we will be forced to continue expanding our Prime Air R&D footprint abroad," Misener wrote in the letter, first reported by The Wall Street Journal.