Amazon Completes First Prime Air Trial Drone Delivery To UK Customer

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Amazon announced this morning that its Prime Air drone delivery service is off to an excellent start. While many thought that Prime Air was little more than fantasy when Amazon first announced the initiative three years ago, the first beta flight involving a paying customer actually took place without issue on December 7th.

The customer, only identified at Richard B., is located just two miles from Amazon’s Prime Air fulfillment center. The first Prime Air delivery consisted of an Amazon Fire TV (4K model, of course) and a bag of popcorn to most likely kick back and enjoy the inaugural season of The Grand Tour. The total time from when Richard B. clicked the order button until when the order was delivered was a mere 13 minutes.

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It should be noted that at this point in development, Amazon’s drones aren’t capable of delivering more than a few items at a time — the actually “cargo hold” doesn't look much larger than a shoebox. In addition, the maximum weight for your ordered items must currently be less than 5 pounds.

As of today, Amazon’s UK trial service is only available to two customers — that’s right, two. However, Amazon will eventually open the trial up to a few dozen customers and perhaps hundreds who live within a 5- to 10-mile radius of the fulfillment center. While customer currently participating in the trial will be able order seven days a week, flights can only take place in good weather and during daytime hours (for obvious reasons). 

It should also be noted that customers will literally have to roll out the welcome mat for the Prime Air drone. A special mat, which we’re assuming is Amazon-provided, is what the drone uses to locate its landing spot, touch down, and deploy its payload.

It should be noted that Amazon decided to take its flight trials to the UK after it encountered friction with the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Paul Misener, Amazon's Vice President of Global Innovation Policy and Communications, touted the welcoming arms of the UK back in July, writing, “The U.K. is a leader in enabling drone innovation – we've been investing in Prime Air research and development here for quite some time.

“This announcement strengthens our partnership with the U.K. and brings Amazon closer to our goal of using drones to safely deliver parcels in 30 minutes to customers in the U.K. and elsewhere around the world.”