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Amazon partners with UK government to test its drones

ICE Graveyard 25/07/2016 Frederic Lardinois

Amazon today announced that it has partnered with the UK Government to test some of the technologies that may one day enable its Prime Air drone delivery service.

In a partnership with the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Amazon now has the permission to explore beyond-line-of-sight operations in rural and suburban areas (something the U.S.’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does not currently allow), test flights where a single person monitors and operates multiple autonomous drones, and trial its sense and avoid technologies.

“The UK is a leader in enabling drone innovation – we’ve been investing in Prime Air research and development here for quite some time,” said Paul Misener, Amazon’s Vice President of Global Innovation Policy and Communications, in today’s announcement. “This announcement strengthens our partnership with the UK and brings Amazon closer to our goal of using drones to safely deliver parcels in 30 minutes to customers in the UK and elsewhere around the world.”

Amazon says the CAA will be fully involved in these tests and that the outcome will “help inform the development of future policy and regulation in this area.”

While the FAA recently announced its rules for commercial drone usage, the regulations currently don’t allow for drone delivery services because they, among other things, only allow for line-of-sight operations. There is no way Amazon could run its service under those rules, so the company is obviously looking to trial its technology in other countries. Amazon’s Prime Air division already has a base in the UK and it’s been testing its drones there for a while. Jeff Bezos also recently disclosed that Amazon is also currently testing its drones in the Netherlands, too (in addition to Canada).

While today’s agreement doesn’t exactly give Amazon permission to start drone deliveries, it marks a major step forward for Amazon’s ambitions in this area.

We have reached out to Amazon for more details about this announcement and will update the post once we hear more.

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