Amazon has once again used the holiday season to show off the company’s vision. Three years ago Jeff Bezos announced the company’s intention to use drones for delivery; today the Internet retailing giant fulfilled its promise with its first ever drone delivery which happened in Cambridgeshire, England.
Amazon Fire streaming device and popcorn comprised milestone drone delivery
While Amazon surely wishes to begin making drone deliveries in the United States, FAA regulations don’t allow for that at this moment in time and may not for quite some time. In the meantime, the company is focused on areas where regulations do allow for it and continued research into the program.
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That’s not to say that drone deliveries are available to the public at present in the UK or even this part of England but the 2-mile, 13 minute flight which brought an Amazon Fire Device and popcorn to a customer known only as Richard B. was well within the area that U.K. aviation authorities have authorized for drone test flights. Not surprisingly, that area is also home to Richard B is home to a “secretive farm” which Amazon has been using for drone flights and research.
Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, was quick to tweet about the milestone. “First-ever #AmazonPrimeAir customer delivery is in the books,” said the CEO “13 min — click to delivery.”
The custom-built quad-copter is not required to have a human operator (just nearby) at the controls and the flight was managed entirely with GPS and kept well under the 400-foot ceiling that UK regulations on this zone dictate. The drone uses “sense-and-avoid” technology to avoid buildings, birds and other obstacles it might encounter en route to its destination and again on its return home.
Not surprising, Amazon was ready with a video and clearly pre-recorded narration that could be included quickly in the video showing this first drone delivery.
“We’re starting with two customers now and in the coming months we’ll offer participation to dozens of customers living within several miles of our U.K. facility, and then growing to hundreds more,” the narration said today. “After that, well it’d be easy to say the sky’s the limit, but that’s not exactly true anymore, is it?”
After the video shows the drone successfully dropped off at the target Amazon provided for this first, the drone took off and began its return to the warehouse from whence it came.
“We will use the data gathered during this beta test and the feedback provided by customers to expand the private trial to more customers over time,” the narrator said as the video came to an end.
While Richard B. and others may be quite pleased with the flight, that isn’t the case with everyone in the area.
Julia Napier, a founder of the local Cambridgeshire association which maintains footpaths in the area is not a fan of the project in her belief that the drones will harm local wildlife and the pristine countryside, a claim Amazon clearly doesn’t share.
“They are testing those drones here because they can’t do it in America,” she told the New York Times. “Whatever the Americans don’t want, I don’t want it, either.”
There are a number of notable companies in numerous countries that are looking to use drones to deliver their own products including 7-11 and Domino’s Pizza, but today belongs to Amazon and its AirPrime Service.