Amazon delivery drone test flights are coming to Cambridge

Attention Cambridge residents: Leave the drone alone.

Mar 1, 2020, 5:03 pm*

Tech

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw 

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Amazon will soon begin trial runs of its drone delivery service in Cambridge, England.

The drone program, which will definitely not inspire people to go out with cartoonishly large nets and steal their neighbours’ mail, was announced last year. The project, titled Prime Air, involves pre-programmed robots flying Amazon packages to select customers.

TechCrunch reports that the Cambridge branch of Amazon’s R&D department has recently begun hiring more drone-specific employees under job titles like Flight Operations Engineer. In other words, if you want a job flying Amazon drones, now is the time to move to Cambridge.

Drone deliveries are still viewed as something of a crackpot idea, but it’s definitely in Amazon’s best interests to get the program up and running. Not only would it be cheaper in the long run than using human delivery drivers, but drones could reduce some delivery times to mere minutes. You can see Amazon’s utopian vision of drone delivery in this promotional video, where an autonomous delivery unit happily alights on a spacious doorstep and has no problems with bad weather, tree branches, or kids trying to knock it out of the air.

Google tested a similar drone delivery system in August, under the title Project Wing. The company’s mysterious Google X research facility spent two years developing Project Wing before revealing it to the world; its first major tests later took place in Australia. Google’s drones are intended for use in disaster relief operations, carrying medical supplies to isolated areas and assisting in other material-recovery operations.

In addition to the tests in Cambridge, Amazon is hiring drone specialists for its Seattle headquarters. The online retailer seems confident that by the time its drone program is up and running, it will have persuaded the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to loosen its regulations on commercial drone flight.

Photo via Amazon

 

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*First Published: Nov 14, 2014, 5:21 pm