Amazon to devote site to drone research

By Gwen Ridler contact

- Last updated on GMT

Amazon is to dedicate its Cambridge development centre to drone research
Amazon is to dedicate its Cambridge development centre to drone research

Related tags: United kingdom, Innovation

Amazon is to focus development of its drone technology at its Cambridge site, while relocating other research to a new facility in the city.

The existing Castle Hill site used primarily for research and development of Prime Air – Amazon’s delivery system using unmanned aircraft.

Work on Amazon’s range of devices – including its artificial intelligence digital assistant Alexa ­– will move to a new 18,288m2 ​facility.

The new building will have capacity for over 400 “highly-skilled​” employees, including: machine learning scientists, knowledge engineers, data scientists, mathematical modellers, speech scientists and software engineers.

Minister of state for digital and culture Matt Hancock said: “This is fantastic news – Amazon’s increased investment in developing cutting-edge technology in Cambridge is another vote of confidence in the UK as a world-leading centre of invention and innovation.”

Commercial delivery using a drone

The online retail giant completed its first successful commercial delivery using a drone​ in the UK in December last year.

The delivery – a bag of popcorn and an Amazon Fire TV stick – was made on December 7 from the company’s Cambridge fulfilment centre to a nearby customer, reaching its destination 13 minutes after it was ordered.

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

Paul Misener, Amazon’s vice president of global innovation policy and communications, at the time said: “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.”

‘Pioneer new sustainable delivery methods’

The company last week (May 4) announced that it had invested £6.4bn across the UK since 2010 and this year has pledged to create 5,000 new permanent roles​ across the country, bringing its full time workforce to 24,000.

Amazon’s UK country manager Doug Gurr said: “We are constantly inventing on behalf of our customers, and our development centres in Cambridge, Edinburgh and London play a major role in Amazon’s global innovation story.

“By the end of this year, we will have more than 1,500 innovation related roles here in Britain, working on everything from machine learning and drone technology to streaming video technology and Amazon Web Services.”

Related topics: Supply Chain, Ambient foods

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