Amazon makes its first successful drone delivery in the U.K.

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Retail giant Amazon has made its first successful commercial delivery using a drone in the UK.

The package arrived safely at its destination in Cambridge, 13 minutes after being ordered. A video showing the process details how the order was completed using an electrically powered drone flying at up to 400 ft (122 m).

The delivery took place on December 7 as part of the testing for the Amazon Air service, although it was only revealed on December 14.

The Cambridge fulfilment centre is home to the drones, which, once the ordered package is on board, travel along an automated track to the launch area. The drones then take off and fly completely autonomously, guided by GPS to their destination. They are capable of carrying items weighing up to 2.7 kg (5 lbs).

 

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The aim is that all orders made using Amazon Air will be delivered within 30 minutes at no extra cost.

For now, the drones are delivering only to customers located in close proximity to the specialized warehouse. Customers place a small QR code-looking piece of signage on their lawn, which allows the drone to know precisely where it can safely land.

The safety of drones has come under the spotlight in recent months. There have been reports of near-misses this year between drones and aircraft at London Stansted and Cornwall Airport Newquay.

“Safety is our top priority,” Amazon said on its website. “We are currently permitted to operate during daylight hours when there are low winds and good visibility, but not in rain, snow or icy conditions.”

There are Prime Air development centres in the US, UK, Austria and Israel. The company is also testing its drone vehicles in “multiple international locations”.

 

 

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