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Chinese firm bests Amazon drone delivery capabilities

24 May 2017 - 08:44 by David Aiken

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Although US e-commerce giant, Amazon, has been making headlines thanks to its trials involving drones to deliver items ordered via safe shopping online, it looks like it may have been bested by a rival from China.

The impressive capabilities of the drones used by, in combination with the less stringent regulations governing the use of this type of aircraft in China, enable goods weighing up to a tonne to be transported onboard a UAV.

Furthermore, the range of the drones is extensive, allowing for deliveries to be made anywhere within 300 miles of the distribution centres that are being used for testing.

It is not Amazon’s lack of ambition that is preventing it from achieving something similar, but rather the restrictions placed on drones by the Federal Aviation Authority in America, where the company is based.

This has been good news for the UK as Amazon has chosen to switch its drone delivery tests to British airspace where it has more freedom to trial this potentially revolutionary technology. However for the time being, most deliveries have been made within a mile or two of the Cambridgeshire location from which development is taking place.

Of course, few consumers order items online which weigh anywhere close to a tonne, so it may be that the larger drones are really only useful for bulk orders placed by businesses. Meanwhile, the use of smaller drones to ship out lighter items could become common over the next few decades, even if it still seems like a science fiction concept rather than a reality.

The viability of drone deliveries will only be relevant for those who have gardens, or access to areas which are suitable for landing the autonomous aircraft that are set to buzz through British skies in their thousands.