Amazon’s drone mission succeeds

Insofar as Jeff Bezos hoped to put pressure on the Federal Aviation Administration to get on with developing a plan for the commercial use of drones by revealing Amazon’s delivery-drone R&D project on 60 Minutes Sunday night, that part of the mission has been accomplished.

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee announced Monday that it will hold a hearing early next year on the commercial use of drones, including Amazon’s octocopters.

“As we move forward toward integrating drones into civilian life and capitalizing on the economic opportunities they offer, we must make certain that these aircraft meet rigorous safety and privacy standards,” committee chairman Jay Rockefella (D-WV) said in a statement. “I plan to hold a hearing early next year to explore the potential economic benefits of unmanned vehicles in our airspace as well as the potential risks they may create.”

A committee aide was quoted as saying the hearing was in the works before Amazon’s announcement, but it’s certain to receive a whole lot more attention now, after Amazon’s little show-and-tell, than an FAA oversight hearing would normally attract.

Well played, Jeff Bezos.