Amazon gets go-ahead for UK drone delivery testing

The days of answering a knock at the door to be greeted with the sound of an absent courier screeching off down the street could be nearing an end.

Retailer Amazon has been given governmental approval to begin testing delivery drones in the UK as part of its Prime Air program.

The trial will attempt to solve three problems – the operation of drones beyond the line of sight of the operative, stopping drones bumping into things and the provision for one pilot to be responsible for several drones simultaneously.

While several devices are being tested, the current front-runner is a helicopter-aeroplane hybrid that can fly at 50mph at a height of 350ft at a distance of up to 10 miles from its base. The ‘copter element will then allow it to safely deposit your order in your back garden. The hope is that orders will arrive in as little as 30 minutes after being placed

Current rules require that drone operators maintain a visual link with their craft, and that they must stay below 40ft. There is also understandable nervousness about the idea of camera-equipped drones, forcing Amazon to move toward a sensor-based solution.

The government, for its part, is keen for a drone-based delivery infrastructure to be available to all businesses. UK law in this area is currently more flexible than elsewhere in the continent.

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