Amazon Testing “PrimeAir” Drone Delivery In UK

While Amazon hasn’t received the okay to begin using drones to make deliveries in the U.S., that isn’t stopping the e-commerce giant from trying the method in the UK.

Amazon announced Tuesday that it has partnered with the UK government to test the use of drones to make small parcel deliveries in order to shape rules for the future of unmanned aircraft deliveries.

The company says it received permission from a cross-government team, including the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), to explore three PrimeAir delivery innovations: beyond line of sight operations in rural and suburban areas, sensor performance to make sure the drones can identify and avoid obstacles, and flights where one person operates multiple highly-automated drones.

The trial is intended to help Amazon learn how drones can be used safely and reliably to deliver orders. It will also help identify what operating rules and safety regulations will be needed to help move the drone industry forward.

“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’s Vice President of Global Innovation Policy and Communications, said in a statement. “The UK is charting a path forward for drone technology that will benefit consumers, industry and society.”

Under the PrimeAir tests, customers simply place an order online. The ordered items, which can weigh up to five pounds total, are then locked in a plastic container attached to a drone, which will complete the delivery within 30 minutes.

News of the PrimeAir tests in the UK come a week after Amazon received a patent to create drone perches — where the aircraft could pick up packages, recharge, and receive directions — on lampposts, church steeples, and other structures.

Amazon has been working on drone deliveries for more than a year, receiving another patent that would warn bystanders to “look out” for the flying delivery vehicles, while waiting for Federal Aviation Administration rules on commercial deliveries.

The FAA released rules last month, but they specifically prohibited drones from flying across cities and suburbs holding packages, because that would mean flying over people.

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