Because Amazon is frustrated with the slow pace of the FAA's drone policy-making process, the company decided to first test its drone-delivery services in the U.K. instead of the U.S.
Recode reported that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos tweeted a video showing its first drone delivery taking place Wednesday morning, Dec. 14. The package was successfully delivered in a rural British town about 60 miles north of London. On the same day Bezos shared the video, he attended a summit of tech executives hosted by President-elect Donald Trump at his Trump Tower, a skyscraper in New York City.
Travis Kalanick and CEOs Elon Musk announced that they will join Trump's policy strategy team in order to advise the incoming administration on key issues that will impact the tech industry, including self-driving car regulations. Bezos is also likely to push his own interests, including the future of drone policy. During Trump's presidency, it is expected that the federal administration will be crafting U.S. drone rules.
Why Testing In UK?
As previously reported by CBS News back in 2013, Bezos was confident that drones would one day fill the skies. The online retailer hoped initially that it will be able to start drone delivery testing in the U.S.
But the speed of development of this new industry depended on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA did not grant permission until almost a year later after Amazon applied in 2014 for a fly permit, according to a previous report of The Wall Street Journal.
This is the reason why Amazon has decided to take its testing operations to the U.K. According to Seattle Times, in the U.K. Amazon was able to receive the regulators' approval to start testing much faster and with more leniency than in the U.S.
Amazon has permission to fly drones in some rural and suburban areas in the U.K. The company is also working with U.K. regulators to test a detection system to avoid obstacles, other aircraft and people on the ground, as well as how an operator can safely operate multiple drones at once, according to The New York Times.
Amazon's U.K. testing includes autonomous piloting technology where the drone flies for about two miles without an operator following it. This kind of a move is not broadly legal in either country yet.
Amazon started this Cambridge beta program a long time ago. Cambridge News revealed recently that Amazon has operated a secret lab the area in order to get ready for the launch of Prime Air.
Aside of the United Kingdom, Amazon also has Prime Air labs in Israel, Austria and the U.S. Sooner or later, we may hear news about drone test deliveries in those areas as well.
Amazon delivery drones are only allowed to fly during daylight hours when it's sunny. They are grounded on snow, rain or icy conditions.
Amazon isn't the only company testing drones in the U.K. A major European delivery service, DHL, tested drone delivery over the summer, according to the company's website. Even the U.K. national postal service, Royal Mail, expressed its interest in drones delivery, according to Telegraph.