Amazon’s drone delivery service – PrimeAir – has given up on the U.S. for now. Days after rival Flirtey announced the first FAA sanctioned residential drone delivery – in which the company proudly delivered a 7-Eleven Slurpee to waiting customers – Amazon announced a partnership with the UK Government to test drone delivery in the UK.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has granted Amazon permission to test three areas of their delivery technology: flight beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) in both rural and suburban areas, obstacle avoidance using sensors, and operations which allow a single operator to control multiple “highly-automated” drones.
Recent rules released here in the U.S. prevent drone delivery applications, with limitation such as prohibitions against BVLOS flight and flight over people not directly involved in the operation. But Amazon, determined to move ahead with their drone delivery program, is simply moving overseas.
“The UK is a leader in enabling drone innovation – we’ve been investing in Prime Air research and development here for quite some time,” said Paul Misener, Amazon’s Vice President of Global Innovation Policy and Communications. “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,” said Misener. “The UK is charting a path forward for drone technology that will benefit consumers, industry and society.”
The UK’s aviation regulatory body, the CAA – the UK’s FAA equivalent – is enthusiastic about partnering with the retail giant to use the tests to get out in front of appropriate regulations.
“We want to enable the innovation that arises from the development of drone technology by safely integrating drones into the overall aviation system,” said Tim Johnson, CAA Policy Director. “These tests by Amazon will help inform our policy and future approach.”
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.