Amazon is partnering with the UK government to explore making the delivery of parcels by drones a reality.
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 restrictions are only being lifted in certain “controlled spaces” approved by the CAA.
According to the Telegraph, the tests, which are due to begin imminently, are the most extensive trials of Amazon’s drones anywhere in the world.
Paul Misener, Amazon’s vice president of global innovation policy and communications, said: “The UK is a leader in enabling drone innovation – we’ve been investing in Prime Air research and development here for quite some time. 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.”
Prime Air is a future delivery system from Amazon designed to safely get parcels up to 5lbs in weight to customers in 30 minutes or less using small drones.
This work will help Amazon and the government understand how drones can be used safely and reliably in the logistics industry. It will also help identify what operating rules and safety regulations will be needed to help move the drone industry forward.
Misener added: “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.”
As the UK’s aviation safety regulator, the CAA will be "fully" involved in this work to explore the potential for safe use of drones beyond line of sight. The outcomes of these tests will help inform the development of future policy and regulation in this area.
Tim Johnson, CAA policy director, said: “We want to enable the innovation that arises 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.”