Pictured: Amazon MK30 drone, picture credit Amazon
The locations joining the drone network will be named in the coming months, joining existing US operations in California and Texas where drones can deliver packages weighing up to 2.2kg in less than an hour.
Drone services in the UK and Italy will be integrated into fulfilment centres, starting at one site in each country and expanding over time.
Amazon says it is working with regulators to develop the programme, has refined the technology and is building the right infrastructure to provide a safe and convenient service.
Dave Carbon, Vice President of Amazon Prime Air, says, “We have built a safe, reliable delivery service and have partnered very closely with regulators and communities. We will continue with that collaboration into the future to ensure we are meeting the needs of our customers and the communities we serve.”
Calling Amazon’s announcement fantastic news for the UK and saying drones will be a common sight by 2030, Aviation Minister Baroness Vere says, “Not only will this help boost the economy, offering consumers even more choice while helping keep the environment clean with zero emission technology, but it will also build our understanding how to best use the new technology safely and securely.”
Frederic Laugere, Head of Innovation Advisory Services at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, adds, “It is vital that projects such as this take place to feed into the overall knowledge and experiences that will soon enable drones to be operating beyond the line of sight of their pilot on a day-to-day basis, while also still allowing safe and equitable use of the air by other users.”
Amazon has also unveiled its newest drone, the MK30, which it says has twice the range of previous models, is quieter and can make deliveries in different weather conditions such as light rain, hotter and colder temperatures.
The drones have a unique package delivery system where packages are held inside the drone during transit to protect the contents.
The MK30 is equipped with technology which allows it to identify and avoid obstacles in the delivery area including objects which were not there the day before such as a freshly planted tree, says Amazon.