Amazon starts Prime Air drone delivery trial in UK

By Lucy Tandon Copp 4-Jan-2017

Two shoppers are now able to order products by drone as early trials begin of online retailer’s Prime Air service

Amazon has launched a UK trial of its Prime Air service, with the first delivery including an Amazon Fire TV stick and a bag of popcorn.

On 7 December the first package was safely delivered to an address in Cambridge, with orders sent out from a Prime Air fulfilment centre nearby.

The fulfilment centre is different to others, Amazon said, as it uses “innovative Prime Air technology”, which includes an electrically-powered Amazon drone rising to the sky with the customer’s package on board.

The drones are autonomous and operate entirely alone, meaning that when an order is placed they deploy themselves.

In a FAQ on its website, Amazon said its drones will deliver packages weighing up to five pounds in 30 minutes or less.

The company explained: “We are testing many different vehicle designs and delivery mechanisms to discover how best to deliver packages in a variety of operating environments.

"The look and characteristics of the vehicles will continue to evolve over time.”

Currently only two UK consumers can order items using Prime Air, choosing from a variety of items such as electronic gadgets or dog biscuits.

Amazon will use the feedback and data from the beta test to roll-out the trial to “dozens of customers” living within several miles of the UK facility, growing to “hundreds” more.

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Amazon also said it is working with regulators to make Prime Air available in other countries.