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Drone Parcel Deliveries Tested by Amazon in the UK

Drone Parcel Deliveries Tested by Amazon in the UK
In a move that aims to bring the unmanned flying machines closer to being used for deliveries, Amazon, the U.S. e-commerce giant said that it has partnered with the U.K. government to test drones in Britain's rural and suburban areas.
Permission to explore "three key innovations" have been granted by the Government and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the U.K.'s aviation watchdog.
These include the testing of sensors on the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to see if they can identify and avoid obstacles, flying drones beyond the line of sight of operations and flight where one person controls a number of drones.
Something that has pretty much blocked Amazon’s attempts to deliver parcels via drone is the law that prohibits flying of drones out of the line of sight of the operator is illegal in the U.K. and in the U.S.
"The U.K. is a leader in enabling drone innovation – we've been investing in Prime Air research and development here for quite some time," Paul Misener, Amazon's vice president of global innovation policy and communications, said in a press release.
"This announcement strengthens our partnership with the U.K. and brings Amazon closer to our goal of using drones to safely deliver parcels in 30 minutes to customers in the U.K. and elsewhere around the world," Misener added.
It is however unclear as to the details of how the system would work. As a working principle a parcel would be dropped off by a drone after it picks up a parcel from a warehouse and flies it over to a home or business. But the system could potentially be more complex as is evident from the patents granted to Amazon recently.
How a UAV would collect a package from a handling facility and fly to its destination was shown in a filing at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) last year. But to help with its route planning a drone would communicate with other drones flying in the area during this journey. An idea for “docking stations” on top of tall structures like lampposts or church steeples, where a drone could recharge or pick up a parcel was reveled in another patent granted to the company earlier this month.
Such ideas highlights that the communication between drones will be key even though these patented ideas may never see the light of day.
There are still questions over the commercial feasibility of drone delivery and a A number of privacy concerns about the use of drones have been raised. A huge objective for the company since it was unveiled in 2013 is Prime Air – the name of Amazon's drone project.
A new set of rules that stopped short of allowing Amazon to carry out deliveries by drones were recently released by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), with whom the U.S. e-commerce firm has often clashed in the past. Hence other countries had been targeted by Amazon to develop Prime Air. Amazon had already been testing drones in Canada and the Netherlands before the partnership with the U.K.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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