Amazon is making progress with its drone-related endeavors, teaming up with the UK government for further drone testing.
Together with the UK government, Amazon wants to explore the necessary steps to make drone parcel delivery a reality, enabling its Prime Air program. Through this partnership, the company will expand its drone testing to experiment new methods.
Amazon now has the green light to explore three essential innovations: operations beyond line of sight in suburban and rural areas, testing sensor performance to ensure the drones can detect and avoid obstacles and flights involving one person operating several highly automated drones.
Paul Misener, Amazon VP of Global Innovation Policy and Communications, highlights that the UK is a force in drone innovation, and the partnership brings Amazon closer to achieving its goals of delivering parcels quickly and securely, in just 30 minutes, via drones.
Through this new partnership, Amazon and the UK Government should be able to better understand how to safely and reliably use drones in the logistics industry. At the same time, the work will also help figure out what safety regulations and operating rules are necessary to boost the drone industry.
Misener further points out that using small drones to deliver parcels will not only enhance the customer experience but will also create employment opportunities in a growing industry as well as pave the way to new delivery methods.
The UK's support to enable innovative drone technologies "will benefit consumers, industry and society," says the executive.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), UK's aviation safety regulator, will be "fully involved" in the testing, and the work will help with the development of future policy and regulation to safely use drones beyond line of sight.
CAA Policy Director, Tim Johnson, notes that the agency wants to safely integrate drones into the aviation system, highlighting that Amazon's tests in the UK will help the CAA chart its policy and future approach.
Figuring out how to safely use drones beyond line of sight is crucial. Recent FAA regulations in the United States, for instance, don't leave room for drone delivery services because they only allow line-of-sight operations, among other limitations.
Amazon could not operate a commercial drone delivery service under such regulations, which is why the company is looking to test its technology in other countries. The UK division of Amazon Prime Air has been testing drones in the country for a while now, and this new partnership only strengthens the company's chances of making drone delivery a reality.