SAN FRANCISCO – Amazon legally delivered its first Prime order in the United Kingdom last week and is preparing to enter a pilot testing period for drone delivery in rural areas in the country in the coming weeks.
The test took place within five miles of its Cambridgeshire drone testing facility outside the university town of Cambridge. The test was done with the approval of Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority, which Amazon says plans to allow it to deliver to rural areas once it has amassed sufficient safety data.
The test of Prime Air, Amazon’s would-be service to deliver packages up to five pounds in 30 minutes or less, took place on Dec. 7, Amazon said.
It was for an Amazon Fire TV and bag of popcorn and took 13 minutes from the moment the customer clicked “order” to package delivery.
So far the trial includes only two customers who live near Amazon’s testing facility. The company hopes to add dozens who lives within a few miles in the coming months. There will be no surcharge for 30-minute drone delivery for these customers, the company said.
Drone delivery will only be available during daylight hours and will be weather-dependent.
In the United States that will be contingent on Federal Aviation Administration approval.
Amazon received United Kingdom approval to conduct drone testing in July 2016. That included allowing beyond line-of-sight operations in rural and suburban areas, sense-and-avoid sensor use and the operation flights where one person operates multiple highly-automated drones.
Amazon says it plans to bring drone deliver to rural customers first, then to suburbs and later to cities and towns.
While the trials are happening in the United Kingdom, Amazon hopes that it can bring drone delivery to other markets as well.
Copyright 2016 KING