Amazon gets UK OK to test drones for Prime Air deliveries

JC Torres - Jul 26, 2016, 3:30 am CDT
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Amazon gets UK OK to test drones for Prime Air deliveries

Facing some big hurdles from government regulators in the US, Amazon might be searching for less resistance elsewhere. The company has just proudly revealed it has gotten the green light from the UK government to conduct drone flight tests in the country. This would get the ball rolling in bringing Prime Air, the company’s drone delivery service, into the UK. Provided, of course, it manages to demonstrate how safe its drones are and how capable it is at operating those from a rather remote distance.

A favorite among hobbyists and enthusiasts, drones are also a favorite target of lawmakers, birds of prey, and rifle-toting humans. But for all their nuisance and safety or privacy issues, drones can also be reasonably used for good. For example, AT&T plans to use drones not only to service cell towers but also to extend coverage in crowded places and events.

Neither Amazon nor Google have made it a secret that they envision to use drones to deliver items faster and fancier. But while Google’s goals are more reserved, Amazon’s ambitions are only limited by how much these drones can carry and by government regulations. The Federal Aviation Administration in the US has been cracking down on drones and have implemented or proposed rules that put substantial limits into how Amazon can use drones for its deliveries.

Opportunity, however, knocks for Amazon on the other side of the pond. Unsurprisingly, Amazon describes the UK as “a leader in enabling drone innovation”. There, it will work with the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in conducting tests related to drone flight and control. Specifically, three areas are being tested: the ability to operate the drone beyond line of sight, the ability of drones to identify and avoid obstacles, and the ability of operators to handle multiple automated drones.

It’s no assurance that Amazon will get the final approval to launch Prime Air in the UK, but the way the retailer is painting it, the government seems to be at least cooperative, if not enthusiastic about it. Amazon promises that being able to deliver parcels using drones will not only improve customer experience but, contrary to common perception, will even create new jobs rather than cause human to lose theirs.


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