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Amazon brings Prime Air delivery drones to the UK

Just when you thought deliveries from Amazon couldn’t get any quicker…

Amazon has partnered with the UK Government to trial a new delivery system that uses drones. The US-based retail giant wants to make “the delivery of parcels by small drones a reality” in Britain, and now has the backing of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

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The CAA has given Amazon the thumbs-up to explore three different areas of its Prime Air drone delivery system:

  • Beyond line of sight operations in rural and suburban areas
  • Testing sensor performance to make sure the drones can identify and avoid obstacles
  • Flights where one person operates multiple highly-automated drones

The UK is a leader in enabling drone innovation – we’ve been investing in Prime Air research and development here for quite some time,” said Paul Misener, Amazon’s VP of Global Innovation Policy and Communications. “This announcement strengthens our partnership with the UK and brings Amazon closer to our goal of using drones to safely deliver parcels in 30 minutes to customer sin the UK elsewhere around the world.”

Amazon Prime Air drone

The drones will be tested at a limited altitude of 400-feet, and will also feature a weight limit. Prime Air fliers will carry packages weighing up to five pounds (2.3kg) to customers within 30 minutes or less. According to Amazon, packages weighing less than five pounds make up 90% of the company’s sales.

“Using small drones for the delivery of parcels will improve customer experience, create new jobs in a rapidly growing industry, and pioneer new sustainable delivery methods to meet future demand. The UK is charting a path forward for drone technology that will benefit consumers, industry, and society,” said Misener.

An Amazon spokesperson told the Guardian that the Prime Air system wouldn’t launch to the public until the firm can “demonstrate safety”.

Speaking about the launch, Tim Johnson, the CAA Policy Director, said: “We want to enable the innovation that rises from the development of drone technology by safely integrating drones into the overall aviation system. These tests by Amazon will help inform our policy and future approach.”

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What do you think of Amazon’s Prime Air scheme? Let us know in the comments.

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