Amazon is partnering with the U.K. government to test its drone delivery operations.
UK's Enabling Environment For Drones
The U.K. Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) gave Amazon permission to test beyond-line-of-sight operations in rural and suburban areas. This agreement will also allow Amazon to test "highly automated vehicles" that allow for multiple drones to be piloted by a single person.
Paul Misener, Amazon’s Vice President of Global Innovation Policy and Communications, says the UK is a leader in enabling drone innovation, which makes it an ideal avenue to test out Prime Air research and development. “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,” Misener says.
The CAA’s involvement will be critical in the tests and the outcome will “help inform the development of future policy and regulation in this area.”
Drone Deliveries Will Have To Wait
The collaboration between Amazon and the UK government does not mean Amazon can start drone deliveries, but it certainly moves the company closer to its goals.
The Amazon test drones are battery-powered and weigh less than 55 pounds. They can operate beyond line of sight of 10 miles, fly under 400 feet and cruise over 50 mph. They are programmed to have back-ups in case of mechanical failures.
In the U.S., the FAA regulations don’t allow for drone delivery services because it only allows for line-of-sight operations. Since American airspace is not much of an enabling environment, it’s impossible for Amazon to try out its technology locally. Amazon says they are working with other countries to try bringing Prime Air to customers globally.