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Amazon steps up drone tests for deliveries in UK

RBR Staff Writer Published 13 November 2014

Amazon plans to begin testing drones at Evi Technologies in Cambridge, UK, in the wake of intensifying competition among retailers for same-day deliveries.


Starting as an artificial intelligence firm specialising in "natural language" technologies, Evi Technologies will also be part of Amazon's expansion plan, as Amazon devices are proposed to be fitted with voice recognition.

It is speculated that Amazon might even use the experienced BAE Systems, Britain's major defence contractors and manufacturers of military drones.

Drones flying around a height of 150m in populated areas is currently banned by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), although "there are no established operating guidelines", as admitted by CAA.

The focus is on the drone project Prime Air (developed in the US), as per reports. The announcement was made in December 2013 by founder Jeff Bezos that drones were being considered for rapid package delivery to customers, but was believed to be a publicity stunt.

In July 2014, Amazon confirmed that it had requested the permission of the US Federal Aviation Administration for the testing of these drones, which could reach speeds of up to 50 miles per hour, carrying packages that weighed less than 2.3kg or 5lb, sustainable for a period of 30 minutes.

Drone-testing is the latest strategy of Amazon to discover quicker ways of delivery than the present overnight service it runs. According to the Wall Street Journal, it even tried shuttling taxis between Los Angeles and San Francisco, making same location bound multiple deliveries.

Introducing a same-day collection called Pass My Parcel brand in Britain, in October, Amazon used a 500-strong network of convenience stores and newsagents for the service, which was offered to those customers signing up to the £79 per year Amazon Prime.

Image: Futuristic drones. Photo courtsey of Freedigitalphotos.net.