Back in 2013, Amazon made an announcement that it was pursuing same-day deliveries by drone in the coming years --we wrote a list of pros and cons of the idea at the time. In the passing years, arguments over how drones should be regulated have kept long-range drone deliveries grounded, but the UK has approved measures that would allow Amazon to take to the air.
The Prime Air service has the goal of delivering small packages weighing less than five pounds to customers in just 30 minutes. That goal requires certain allowances that the U.S. still says are no-no's, most notably the ability to fly a drone beyond line of sight. The UK has agreed to give Amazon this permission, in addition to allowing operators to fly more than one mostly-autonomous drone at once and the company testing its sensors to make sure they can identify and avoid obstacles.
The Amazon drones will fly under 400 feet and have onboard "sense and avoid" technology for carrying packages up to 10 miles from delivery hub.
Amazon will start a trial program in the UK to work out any kinks and "help Amazon and the Government understand how drones can be used safely and reliably in the logistics industry." The UK's aviation safety agency, the CAA, will be involved in helping work out safety rules for flying the drones beyond line of sight and the government, as well as those of other countries watching, will be using the outcome of these trials to refine drone regulations.
Amazon is promising the UK job growth in this new industry for allowing them to test out the technology.
The U.S. recently updated its laws concerning commercial drone deliveries, but restrictions still remain that keep many types of deliveries from taking off. That hasn't kept 7-Eleven from making the first successful U.S. drone delivery though.
Drone company Flirtey and the convenience store delivered a chicken sandwich, donuts, hot coffee, Slurpees and candy in Reno, Nevada last week in a special box made for keeping food cold or hot. The drone flew from the convenience store to a local family on an FAA-approved flight.
What seemed a little crazy just three years ago is now quickly becoming reality. Are you ready for drones to deliver to your house?