***Editor’s note: This blog is part of the “Drone of the Week” series. If you have an idea for a story, please email [email protected]***
This week, the U.K.’s Civilian Aviation Authority (CAA) has granted e-commerce giant Amazon permission to test out its delivery drones in the country’s rural and suburban areas. To do so, the CAA is relaxing certain regulations that have so far prevented the firm from testing out its unmanned delivery system in countries like the U.S.—particularly, flying the aircraft out of the operator’s line of sight.
“The U.K. is a leader in enabling drone innovation—we’ve been investing in Prime Air research and development here for quite some time,” Paul Misener, Amazon’s vice president of global innovation policy and communications, said. “This announcement strengthens our partnership with the U.K. and brings Amazon closer to our goal of using drones to safely deliver parcels in 30 minutes to customers in the U.K. and elsewhere around the world.”
The decision comes hot on the heels of the country’s historic vote last month to leave the European Union.
Drones will deliver packages weighing in at five pounds or less (which makes up roughly 90 percent of Amazon’s sales), and aircraft will be limited to an altitude of 400 feet.
The trial will also explore whether a single operator can command multiple drones at once, as well as deploy technology that can automatically detect (and avoid) obstacles such as people, buildings, and other flying aircraft—all of which will inform Amazon what rules and safety regulations will be needed for its delivery system going forward.
Amazon hopes that its success in Britain will encourage other strict regulatory bodies (such as the Federal Aviation Authority in the U.S.) to loosen their restrictions. While aviation analysts predict that the U.S. will eventually permit unmanned deliveries, it probably wouldn’t be within the next year or two.
Things are literally looking up for our friends across the pond. If you need me, I’ll be sitting forlornly on the porch waiting for the mailman to deliver my toilet paper.
Filed Under: M2M (machine to machine)