Amazon announced Monday a partnership with the British government allowing the online retailer to test its delivery drones for its Prime Air project.
The retailer said that a "cross-government team" with support from the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority has allowed Amazon to explore what the company called "three key innovations." These are — beyond line of sight operations in rural and suburban areas, secondly, test on the drone's sensors to understand if it can identify and avoid obstacles, and lastly, exploring the possibility of multiple autonomous drones being handled by a single operator.
Amazon’s Vice President of Global Innovation Policy and Communications Paul Misener said in the statement, “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.”
This is reportedly the first time such tests are being conducted in the United Kingdom. Amazon said in the news release that these tests will help it understand how drones can be used safely and reliably in the logistics industry while helping the government and the company set rules and safety regulations regarding commercial operators using such drones.
Civil Aviation Authority’s Policy Director Tim Johnson said in the statement, “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.”
Reports said that Amazon shifting its testing to the U.K. adds pressure on the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, which issued new rules last month regarding the use of commercial drones in the country. The new rules prevent Amazon from conducting a majority of its tests thus forcing the retailer to shift its attention toward the U.K.
Amazon’s Prime Air project, which is still in the works, hopes to get packages of up to 5 pounds to customers in 30 minutes or less using small drones.