Amazon in talks to start drone deliveries in the UK

Author

Alan Tovey Industry Editor

March 26, 2015

Online retail giant has spoken to Government ministers about its plans

Amazon is investigating starting trials of its drone delivery service in the UK because regulations in the US are too onerous.

The online retailing giant approached the Government about test flights of its Prime Air service which plans to use small unmanned aircraft to get purchases into customers’ hands in 30 minutes or less.

Robert Goodwill, transport minister, said he had met with the US company about test flights of the system.

Speaking at a motor industry conference, Mr Goodwill said: “Amazon came to see me to ask about starting drone trials in the UK because regulations in the UK were too restrictive.

“So much for the land of the  free.”

Amazon announced plans for the service in December 2013 and while many dismissed it as a publicity stunt, the company – which has a reputation for innovation – assured it was serious about the concept.

“It looks like science fiction, but it’s real,” the company said at the time. “One day, seeing Prime Air vehicles will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road.”

However, Amazon has been hamstrung by controls over use of drones and last year threatened to take the trial abroad if the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) did not allow it to begin outdoor tests.

Last week the FAA granted Amazon permission for outdoor tests but the commerce company said it had already moved development work abroad. Giving testimony before a US Senate subcommittee, Paul Misener, Amazon’s vice president for Global Public Policy, said “while the FAA was considering our applications for testing, we innovated so rapidly that the [drone] approved last week by the FAA has become obsolete. We don’t test it anymore. We’ve moved on to more advanced designs that we already are testing abroad.”

Mr Goodwill said the UK is very interested in how the country can be at the forefront of drone technology and development.

“We’re working with Amazon,” he said. “And Government is working on the whole issue of drones. We’re meeting with the British Airline Pilots Association and we’re both keen to innovate.”

He added that legislative issues around drones were confusing.

“If I’m selling my house I can use a drone to take an aerial photograph and give it to an estate agent to use but he cannot take his own one using a drone and use that,” Mr Goodwill said, adding that the government is working to tackle the issue.

 

This article was written by Alan Tovey Industry Editor from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


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