Thursday, 14 November 2019

First Amazon Prime Air drone delivery lands in UK

Amazon has revealed that it’s made its first delivery by autonomous aerial drone, to a chap named “Richard B” who lives somewhere in Cambridgeshire, England. Richard ordered a bag of popcorn and an Amazon Fire TV. Amazon’s released a saccharine video to mark the occasion. If you’d rather not endure it embedded below, the salient points are:

  • The drones are powered by electricity;
  • The drones are loaded in an Amazon warehouse, are then placed on a on a platform that’s mounted on rails. The platform slides out of the building and at the end of the line the drone buzzes off into the sky;
  • It looks like a human operator oversees the launch, but we don’t see a human with override of the autonomous flight as required by UK law;
  • Order-to-delivery time of 30 minutes gets a mention;
  • Richard B’s home is in a rural area surrounded by open ground;
  • The drone lands well clear of his home, on a small target placed on the ground;
  • Amazon says the drone flies at “under 400 feet” and can lift “under five pounds”;
  • The beta will expand to “hundreds” of customers in coming weeks and months;
  • Delivery will be possible “within several miles” of Amazon’s shed;
  • A limited range of products is on offer: the video mentions electronics, snacks and pet food.

There’s not much else we can tell you: Amazon’s only released a little information and that was carefully-packaged. We can say that Amazon’s clearly getting quite close to making drone deliveries a reality, while also wondering if the rural setting for the test indicates the system may not yet be ready to fly in denser urban environments.

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