Amazon employee hits Space Needle with drone

An Amazon employee may have crashed a drone he was flying into Seattle’s iconic Space Needle this week.

The unnamed online shopping giant employee’s accident was with a recreational drone purchased from a hobby store, according to the city police department, not one of the prototype models the company is testing for shipping.

ADVERTISEMENT
According to the police, “several guests” saw the drone buzzing around the top of the structure, which may have then crashed into an observation deck window.

The white drone, which was equipped with a camera, then flew two blocks away into a window on the fifth floor of a hotel.

The operator admitted to having flown the drone by the Space Needle but denied that he had hit anything. According to police, “nothing on the video indicated the drone had hit the Needle.”

After a quick “crash course” on drones in Seattle, the man agreed not to fly his drone in public while in the city. 

It is currently legal in the U.S. to fly drones for recreational use, but not commercially.

That distinction has led to some ambiguity, however, and caused problems for companies large and small who were ignorant of the rules. Among the companies shut down by federal authorities for illegally flying drones for commercial use are the Washington Nationals baseball team and a company trying to deliver beer via drone.

Amazon has been one of the most prominent companies trying to seek regulatory approval for its drones, which it plans to use to replace traditional shipping methods and deliver people’s packages in under an hour. This month, the company filed a petition with the Federal Aviation Administration seeking permission to test its fleet. 

Other companies from Hollywood studios to energy developers have also expressed interest is using drones commercially for a range of purposes.