Over the years, we have seen many technological advances that have pushed many industries to places we never thought possible. Sticking to that trend, Amazon has announced that the UK will be used as the testing ground for flying delivery drones. Although the system has received many complaints, Amazon is said to be preparing for the trial run which could see residents receive packages within 30 minutes when signed up to their Prime Air incentive program.
Currently, UK law suggests that drone users cannot let their device out of sight unless they have specific permission from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). According to reports, Amazon is working with both the CAA and the Government in order to enable these drones to be flown over densely populated areas. Of course, tests are still ongoing and the relevant obstacle avoidance systems would have to be in place for it to be a success.
Amazon’s vice president, Paul Misener, has noted how the company has been investing in this program for ‘some time’ and the UK seemed to be the natural choice for testing as it is one of the leaders in enabling drone innovation. By delivering parcels within just 30 minutes, Misener hopes that relations with customers will be allowed to grow and new jobs will open up to, therefore, benefit the economy.
Tim Johnson, policy director at CAA, has said that they want to do as much as they can to help the consumer, as well as the society and industry and Amazon’s delivery drones, enable this. Furthermore, he went on to say that they want to enable the introduction of drones in a safe manner.
As well as receiving much support, there were also people who criticized the decision by saying that drones are too dangerous for the role they will play. Although the injuries caused by the devices are rare now, many fear that this will increase significantly when they are more common. Back in October of last year, an 18-month-old lost an eye after a relative hit a tree and lost control of the device. In reply, a spokesperson for the CAA noted how near misses are a ‘growing problem’ and that the number of injuries due to drones are likely to increase year-on-year. In addition to injuries, drones are also becoming a nuisance for helicopters and planes when they use the same airspace.
It’s fair to say that the debate will continue for some time to come and Amazon will have to invest in safety features for the drone as well as training for those who will be in charge. There are definitely pros and cons to the solution and some have even noted how the removal of delivery vans off the road will help the environment. Regardless of what happens, it will be interesting to see how the situation unfolds and just how close Amazon are to this trial run.