Amazon has just won the approval of the British government to step up its drone tests in UK airspace. The lifting of flight restrictions provides a major boost to Amazon’s plans for unmanned delivery aircraft. The decision means we are now one step closer to drone fleets flying overhead delivering Amazon parcels across the country, which it promises to get to shoppers within 30 minutes.
Prime Air will essentially enhance the services Amazon already provides to its millions of customers, rapid parcel delivery, just not as we know it. Amazon has said that the implementation of drones will not only increase the overall safety of the transportation system but also its efficiency.
The ruling by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) means Amazon now has permission to test fly its drones without the restrictions that typically hinder drone pilots. As such, Amazon will be able to fly the drones without a direct line of sense, allowing engineers to test technology to see whether drones can automatically bypass obstacles in the air.
The second prototype, which Amazon unveiled last year, is capable of flying for 10 miles at an altitude of 400 feet and will be able to carry packages up to 5lb, which currently make up about 90% of all Amazon sales.
In line with the ruling, Amazon has announced that it has been awarded a patent for drone docking stations. This will allow the use of aerial structures such as streetlights and church spires to act as charging points. The docking stations will act as a central information hub where the drones will be able to distribute packages to other drones, transfer relevant data and will even be able to know when a storm is brewing, allowing the drone to avoid that area and re-route. Amazon has also suggested that the docking stations could act as cell towers providing Internet services in the local vicinity.
The recent announcement is hugely exciting news for the UK, and for the Logistics industry particularly. “Technology has a way of unlocking the potential in every industry and this is no different, over the next few years we will see a huge increase in very niche jobs and specialisations pertaining to drone technology becoming mainstream. Just as we have seen specialists in algorithmic development teaming up with Taxi firms to create the likes of Uber, Karhoo, Hailo and Addison Lee to for planning optimal routes, we will now see similar software engineers teaming up with a whole new breed of gyroscopic engineers, meteorologists, and aviation professionals to tackle this entirely new challenge.” Alex Hemsley – Global M