Amazon begins UK drone deliveries

Amazon begins UK drone deliveries

Amazon has begun using drones to deliver parcels to customers in the UK, in a limited trial.

The internet giant released a video on YouTube announcing it has launched its Prime Air service in Cambridge, which involves the use of drones to deliver packages to customers in 30 minutes or less. "We've started a new private trial in the Cambridge area of England, and on 7th December, we completed our first delivery," the video says.

Customers using the service can choose from “thousands of items” held in a warehouse. After the centre receives the order, an electrically-powered drone that can fly at heights of up to 400ft and carry packages up to 5lbs is then guided by GPS through the air.

During this beta test Prime Air will be offered to “dozens” of customers living within several miles of the facility. Amazon then use the data it gathers from the trial to expand the service to more customers over time.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced the news on Twitter, saying: “First-ever Amazon Prime Air customer delivery is in the books. 13 min—click to delivery.”

Earlier this year the news broke that Amazon was working with the UK government on using drones. According to reports, a cross-government team supported by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has provided Amazon with permission to explore three "key innovations": sensor testing for hazard avoidance, one-person operation of multiple drones - usually a pilot is required to be in control of a drone at all times - and operations outside line-of-sight in rural and suburban areas.

The company then gave a tour of its Cambridge facility to local schoolchildren.

At the time, Kristen Kish, corporate communications for Prime Air, said: “We're continuing to do more and more in Cambridgeshire. It's continuing to be an area of significance and importance for Amazon. We want to get the talent and want to encourage science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) with students here, it's just so important we're promoting that science."