Amazon is preparing to roll out a fleet of drones in the UK that rapidly deliver packages during the pandemic after the Government gave the green light to trials for medicine drops earlier this year.
Figures compiled by The Telegraph using data from LinkedIn suggest Amazon has almost doubled its Cambridge “Prime Air” team in the past year to more than 60 staff, having first started trials in the UK back in 2016.
Its most recent hires have included several “flight operators” who would fly the drones.
The team is based at the company’s research and development base in Cambridge, where Amazon also works on its Alexa digital assistant.
Last year, it emerged that it had expanded the size of its testing site to the size of a football pitch.
The moves to grow its UK drone team comes after Amazon last year signalled it would be ramping up its work in this space.
At its Re:MARS conference in June 2019, Amazon said it was aiming to roll out the drones, which could travel “up to 15 miles and deliver packages under five pounds to customers in less than 30 minutes”, within months.
Last year, it requested approval from US regulators to fly its drones. Amazon also became part of an “innovation sandbox” team in the UK trialling the technology.
Companies have been working on developing drones for years, but so far, the industry has been held back by regulation requiring drones to remain in sight at all times during flights – and making autonomous drone deliveries less economically viable.
However, the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated work to loosen such regulation with drones seen as a potential way to deliver hot food and medicine during lockdowns. China, for example, used the aircraft to help isolated citizens earlier this year.
In April, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the Government was conducting a trial to use drones to deliver supplies in the Isle of Wight.
Meanwhile, last week, Alphabet’s drone arm, Wing, was chosen to help build a new British “unmanned aircraft traffic” system which would allow authorities to share airspace information with drone operators.
Amazon has emerged as the biggest winner during lockdown, last week revealing its profits had more than doubled to $5.2bn (£3.95bn) in the three months to the end of June, despite heavy spending on the pandemic.
Amazon declined to comment.
UAV DACH: Beitrag im Original auf https://www.uasvision.com/2020/08/11/amazon-doubles-uk-drone-deliveries-team/, mit freundlicher Genehmigung von UAS Vision automatisch importiert. Der Beitrag gibt nicht unbedingt die Meinung oder Position des UAV DACH e.V. wieder. Das Original ist in englischer Sprache. Für die Inhalte ist der UAV DACH e.V. nicht verantwortlich.