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May 7 2015, 06.10am GMT


The two biggest firms looking to use drones for delivering packages say that regulators in the U.S. are becoming more receptive to their efforts.

With the possibility of boosting the companies’ chances of success for drones to be used commercially, the two largest companies looking to use this burgeoning technology say that the regulators in the US are suddenly becoming more receptive towards its efforts.

Google Inc. (GOOGL, -1.47% GOOG, -1.24%) and Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN, -0.50%) have both said that they noticed a sharp shift in the attitudes in more recent weeks on important issues like drone test flights.

One of the clear signals that attitudes have changed are the plans that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Wednesday announced to initiate studying the flights of drones beyond the sight of operators in more detail. Thus far, the agency has virtually banned this type of flying, including for research purposes. Added to this, the agency also proposed a variety of rules that would prohibit such flights.

The drone industry sees that beyond-sight flying is the key to opening the potential for drones to be used commercially for deliveries and even for pipeline inspections.

Companies who test and manufacture drones have criticized the Federal Aviation Administration for imposing such restrictions on these flights as well as its current requirement for a single human to oversee every drone flight, preventing automated large-scale missions by drone fleets. The FAA policies have caused a lot of doubt on the chances that companies like Google and Amazon have of delivering packages in the US using drones in years to come.

Despite this, Dave Vos, Google’s head of the delivery-drone project, stated at Tuesday’s drone conference that there has been a “dramatic change” in the last two to three weeks. He further stated that there were real concerns a few weeks ago about the progress the company could make in the US regarding drone flights. Today, however, the company is seeing great opportunity to work in the U.S. together with the FAA. He also said that he is not sure what caused the sudden change in attitude; however, the bottom line is the FAA is talking and Google is collaborating.

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