Amazon and UK cooperate in trials to make drone deliveries “a reality”
27 / 07 / 2016
Amazon is partnering with the UK Government to explore the steps needed to make the delivery of parcels by small drones a reality, allowing Amazon to trial new methods of testing its delivery systems.
A cross-Government team supported by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has provided Amazon with permissions to explore three key innovations: beyond line of sight operations in rural and suburban areas, testing sensor performance to make sure the drones can identify and avoid obstacles and flights where one person operates multiple highly-automated drones.
“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 VP of Global Innovation Policy and Communications.
He added: “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.”
The partnership will help Amazon and the UK government understand how drones can be used safely and reliably in the logistics industry. It will also help identify what operating rules and safety regulations will be needed to help move the drone industry forward.
“Using small drones for the delivery of parcels will improve customer experience, create new jobs in a rapidly growing industry, and pioneer new sustainable delivery methods to meet future demand,” said Misener.
“The UK is charting a path forward for drone technology that will benefit consumers, industry and society.”
As the UK’s aviation safety regulator, the CAA will be fully involved in this work to explore the potential for safe use of drones beyond line of sight. The outcomes of these tests will help inform the development of future policy and regulation in this area.
“We want to enable the innovation that arises from the development of drone technology by safely integrating drones into the overall aviation system,” said Tim Johnson, CAA policy director. “These tests by Amazon will help inform our policy and future approach.”
Jim Hoefflin, the president and chief operating officer of supply chain software company Kewill, made the following analysis of the implications for drone delivery in the UK:"Drone delivery for the UK means that for once, rural areas may have an advantage.
"Traditionally, rural and suburban parts of the country are slow to receive services like same day delivery or super-fast broadband. But the use of drones is actually much more feasible outside of cities, as collision avoidance will be a much less daunting challenge for the devices than in built-up urban areas.
"Regardless of the delivery destination, their introduction could cause a supply chain and logistics nightmare if companies are not careful. Many organisations still rely on outdated legacy processes which would make the incorporation of drone delivery a very steep learning curve.
"Drone delivery also throws up questions about redefining traditional supply chain routes. For example, how will goods reach the supplier from the manufacturing line? Not only that, but drones will inundate organisations with a huge amount of real-time data not previously available."
Hoefflin added: "In order to simplify the process, organisations need to ensure they have transport management systems in place that can automate logistical pain points (setting package weight limits, for example, or ensuring drones deliver safely to challenging destinations) rather than inputting each detail individually.
"Tighter integration between systems will also enable businesses to manage all the new data being delivered. "Drone delivery is a key step forward for our new and exciting connected world – but organisations need flexibility and scalability in their supply chain in order to be prepared for innovative delivery methods of the future."