US e-commerce giant Amazon has forged a partnership with the UK government to explore ways to make the delivery of parcels by drones a reality.
A cross-government team supported by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has provided Amazon with permissions to explore three key innovations.
These include beyond the sight operations in rural and suburban areas, testing sensor performance to make sure drones can identify and avoid obstacles, and test flights where one person can operate multiple highly-operated drones.
‘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’
– PAUL MISENER, AMAZON
“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 Vice President 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 customers in the UK and elsewhere around the world.”
Seeds of a drone industry
The research will help Amazon and the UK government understand how drones can be used safely and reliably in the logistics industry, and identify what safety rules and regulations will be needed.
Prime Air is a future delivery system from Amazon designed to safely get packages of up to 5lbs to customers in 30 minutes or less, using small drones.
“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,” said Misener.
“The UK is charting a path forward for drone technology that will benefit consumers, industry and society.”
The CAA will be fully involved in this work to explore the potential for safe use of drones beyond line of sight.
“We want to enable the innovation that arises from the development of drone technology by safely integrating drones into the overall aviation system,” said Tim Johnson, CAA policy director.
“These tests by Amazon will help inform our policy and future approach.”
Drone delivery image via Shutterstock