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Amazon Begins Ground-Breaking Testing on Drone Delivery System in UK

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Amazon and the UK government announced a partnership Monday which will allow Amazon to test their revolutionary drone delivery system, "Prime Air," under the supervision of the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). 

Prime Air has been in development since Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced the project in 2013, but testing in the United States has been staunchly restricted by the Federal Aviation Association (FAA). 

A press release outlined "three key innovations" Amazon and the CAA would explore through this trial process: "beyond line of sight operations in rural and suburban areas, testing sensor performance to make sure the drones can identify and avoid obstacles, and flights where one person operates multiple highly-automated drones."

The "beyond line of sight operations" are particularly ground-breaking, as the FAA currently doesn't allow Prime Air prototype drones to leave a test pilot's line of sight. 

Paul Misener, Amazon's Vice President of Global Innovation Policy and Communications, was quoted in the release:

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.

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. The UK is charting a path forward for drone technology that will benefit consumers, industry and society.

On the other end of the deal, the CAA wants to use the partnership to analyze how to form future regulation of umanned aircraft. CAA Policy Director Tim Johnson said in the release, "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."

While we are still a long ways away from Prime Air becoming an everyday reality, seeing the UK take such strides to invite testing and research makes the idea of receiving a package from a flying robot not so far-fetched. 

Check out an ad featuring a Prime Air drone in practice below:

 

 

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