Amazon's decision to expand its e-commerce empire to Australia could create an easier path to the e-retailer's drone delivery service.
The Wall Street Journal, citing sources familiar with the matter, reported that Amazon is more likely to be able to conduct tests of both autonomous drones and vehicles under Australia's regulatory environment.
The Seattle company views its highly publicized, long-anticipated drone network as a way to ease rising delivery costs, particularly in the expensive final stretch to customers' homes. Executives said they would be ready to deploy drones as soon as it receives approval from federal authorities.
But the e-retailer complained about outdated U.S. testing regulations, and reports suggest that federal authorization of commercial delivery drones is unlikely to happen until the 2020s.
Australia, by contrast, established rules for remotely operated drones last year and standards for autonomous vehicle tests are in development, the Journal reported.
Amazon entered the Australian market with its web services business in 2012, but last month announced plans to bring its full retail operation across the Pacific. Company officials noted that Australia's e-commerce market remains relatively small, and the country could also fit Amazon's ambitious global logistics plans.
Australia, however, could also prove challenging to the e-retail sector. Although Amazon could likely bring its rapid-delivery service to the cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane — home to about half the country's population — reaching the remainder of the vast country would be much more complicated.
The full expansion into Australia is likely to occur next year, but reports said that the announcement alone already made an impact on the country's retail sector.