A drone operated by an Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) employee that allegedly crashed into Seattle’s Space Needle is not a sign the online retailer’s well known drone program is going rogue, Time Magazine is reporting.
Amazon’s drone program had gone rogue
Time says there is no evidence to suggest Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN)’s drone program had gone rogue after an Amazon employee was caught operating a drone near the Space Needle.
The commercial use of drones is prohibited by the Federal Aviation Administration, which is developing rules for how to manage the airspace in a safe fashion, avoiding collisions and other hazards that could threaten populated areas. The recreational use of drones, however, is permitted by the FAA but local laws apply. The FAA guidance on the matter says recreational drone pilots should keep their aircraft below 400 feet above ground level and away from populated areas.
Keeping the aircraft away from populated areas was not what happened at the Space Needle, a police report indicates.
The report says Seattle police were called by Space Needle security just before 8:30 PM after several guests reported seeing a small drone buzz the top of the Needle, and possibly crash into an observation Deck window. The white, quad-propeller unmanned aerial vehicle was equipped with a camera and the drone operated posted pictures of the sunset flight on YouTube – which were later removed. A Vine video of the flight remains posted.
Report related to drone actually hitting the Space Needle vary
Reports of the drone actually hitting the Space Needle vary, but press reports indicate no damage was done to the structure and the video indicated that the drone did not hit the building.
After the drone zipped close to the space needle, it flew back to a local hotel room. Space Needle security followed the drone and pointed out the hotel room location where its operator, an Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) employee, was confronted by police. It is unknown if the Amazon employee had any ties to Amazon’s drone program, which is officially being tested in other countries and inside locations as testing in the US is prohibited.
The Amazon.com employee claimed he was visiting from out of town, purchased the drone on his own at a hobby shop. Police provided the drone operator a crash course on drone controversy, including drones spying on women in their homes. The man agreed not to fly the drone in public and was released.