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Amazon runs UK drone delivery test

By James Ridler+

16-Dec-2016
Last updated on 19-Dec-2016 at 11:39 GMT2016-12-19T11:39:55Z

Amazon completed its first drone delivery in the UK
Amazon completed its first drone delivery in the UK

Online retail giant Amazon has successfully completed its first commercial delivery using a drone, in the UK.

The delivery was made on December 7 from the company’s Cambridge fulfilment centre, reaching its destination 13 minutes after it was ordered.

The electrically-powered drone took off and flew autonomously to its location, guided by GPS. Amazon’s drones are capable of carrying up to 2.7kg.

You can view a video of the first drone delivery below.

Amazon said the new service, Prime Air, will be able to safely get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less using the drones.

‘Rapid parcel delivery’

“Prime Air has great potential to enhance the services we already provide to millions of customers by providing rapid parcel delivery which will also increase the overall safety and efficiency of the transportation system,” said Amazon.

“We are currently permitted to operate during daylight hours when there are low winds and good visibility, but not in rain, snow or icy conditions.”

Amazon planned to trial its new Air service in other countries and was working with regulators and policymakers worldwide.

Drones are set to play an important role in the food and drink supply chain, claimed Weightmans partner Peter Forshaw.

The Modern Transport Bill, laid out in the Queen’s speech in May, included measures to encourage investment in drones.

Encourage investment in drones

“Drones have the ability to speed up internal delivery processes between production points and enhance storage, perhaps, in less accessible factory space,” said Forshaw.

However, Planet Retail analyst Natalie Berg said Amazon Air would have the most impact on consumers, rather than producers.

“Drone delivery is another string to Amazon’s bow, but it’s certainly not an industry game changer,” said Berg.

Amazon announced plans to test the viability of drone delivery in the UK on July 26.  

Paul Misener, Amazon’s vice president of global innovation policy and communications, welcomed the licence to test drone technology.

“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,” he said.

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