Amazon is inching closer to a reality of delivering products using airborne drones. It’s now partnering with the UK government to expand trials of its drones to cover various delivery scenarios.
In collaboration with the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Amazon will test drones that fly beyond the operator’s line of sight in rural and suburban areas, their ability to identify and avoid obstacles, and even trips involving fleets of automated drones handled by a single person.
The outcomes of these trials will help inform the development of future policy and regulation for the use of unmanned drones for commercial purposes.
Paul Misener, Amazon’s Vice President of Global Innovation Policy and Communications said of the partnership:
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.
Last November, Amazon showed off drones that it developed in-house for deliveries to locations up to 15 miles away, in under 30 minutes. In January, the company noted that it was building a range of drones for different environments. It’s been focusing efforts on testing in the UK as the US Federal Aviation Authority has been slow to firm up regulations concerning the use of drones.
It’ll be interesting to see if the new partnership with the CAA helps Amazon race rivals like Walmart and UPS to be the first company to begin delivering products using drones on a large scale.