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Drone delivery tests come to UK

28 July 2016 - 13:54 by Paul Tissington

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British consumers who buy items via safe shopping online in the near future could have the opportunity to receive their package from an unmanned drone, rather than through any of the traditional delivery options.

This possibility has arisen thanks to the announcement of a new deal that has been struck between e-commerce giant Amazon and the government this week, according to the Guardian.

A series of trials will now be run to see whether or not the use of drones as a delivery method is viable. There will be three distinct areas in which regulators will wish to see drone tech proven to be safe in order to support a wider roll-out.

The Civil Aviation Authority is one of the main bodies involved in monitoring the tests of Amazon’s Prime Air drones in UK airspace. It will be looking to see how the machines perform when they are out of sight of operators, while also checking up on their ability to avoid obstacles and be managed as part of a fleet of other drones that are being managed remotely by a single operator.

The drones in question will be able to carry orders which weigh a maximum of 2.3 kilograms. Nine out of every 10 deliveries that Amazon fulfils fall below this upper limit, meaning the potential impact of the drones could be significant in the UK and internationally.

The drones used in the trials will only be allowed to fly at heights of up to 122 metres, ensuring that they comply with existing legislation on drone use. They will also be required to operate in safe, uncongested areas of the sky, steering clear of airports and the flight paths that feed them.

This deal puts the UK at the forefront of the global race to make drone tech part of the process of safe shopping online.