Amazon just made its first customer drone delivery as part of its “Amazon Prime Air” program, according to the CEO Jeff Bezos. The test took place within five miles of its Cambridgeshire drone testing facility outside the university town of Cambridge.
Amazon received United Kingdom approval to conduct drone testing in July 2016. That included allowing beyond line-of-sight operations in rural, suburban areas, sense-and-avoid sensor use and the operation flights where one person operates multiple highly-automated drones.
The test was done with the approval of Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority, which Amazon says plans to allow it to deliver to rural areas once it has amassed sufficient safety data. The test of Prime Air, Amazon’s would-be service to deliver packages up to five pounds in 30 minutes or less, took place on Dec. 7, Amazon said.
Amazon has big plans for Prime Air, and the company claims that one day seeing Amazon drones will be as normal as seeing mail trucks.
Amazon describes the Prime Air Program: a delivery system from Amazon designed to safely get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less using unmanned aerial vehicles, also called drones. Prime Air has great potential to enhance the services we already provide to millions of customers by providing rapid parcel delivery that will also increase the overall safety and efficiency of the transportation system.
Drone delivery will only be available during daylight hours and will be weather-dependent. Specifically, it is only permitted to operate during daylight hours when there are low winds and good visibility, but not in rain, snow or icy conditions.
While the trials are happening in the United Kingdom, Amazon hopes that it can bring drone delivery to other markets as well. Amazon got FAA approval to do drone testing in the United States in April of 2015.
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