Internet retailer Amazon is to test using aerial drones for deliveries after announcing a tie-up with the UK Government.
Under “Prime Air” banner, Amazon wants to eventually use drone aircraft to deliver small packages to customers’ homes in less than 30 minutes.
The new partnership with the Government and Civil Aviation Authority will see Amazon given permission to bypass some of the strict rules on drone flights in order to explore three key areas of the technology: beyond line-of-sight operations, testing sensors to ensure the drones can avoid obstacles and flights with one operator controls multiple automated drones at once.
Announcing the arrangement, 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.”
Amazon says the testing programme will help it 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 if delivery drones are to become a common sight in our skies.
“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 latest version of Amazon’s drones have a range of 10 miles and can fly horizontally to the delivery address before performing a vertical landing and depositing the package. They can carry parcels weighing up to 5lbs and reach speeds of 50mph.