If you live in the United Kingdom, a drone instead of a human, may soon be delivering your Amazon packages. Amazon Prime Air is currently working with the United Kingdom government in order to test drones in rural and suburban areas. Amazon has been granted permission to fly drones beyond the line of sight of operations, test sensors on the drones to see if they can avoid obstacles on their own, and test to see if one person could potentially control several drones at once.
Paul Misener, Amazon's Vice President of Global Innovation Policy and Communications remarked, “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.”
Each part of Amazon’s agreement with the United Kingdom has been a sore spot with the United States Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA strictly prohibits flying drones out of the line of sight of operation. The administration also questions whether a drone could fly out of the line of sight without crashing into something and if a single person would be capable of flying multiple drones at once.
According to Amazon, drones would communicate with one another to help coordinate their routes. The company recently even patented docking stations that would be on tall structures and help drones on their journey. Many of Amazon’s drone-related patents, however, have yet to become a reality.
The FAA remains skeptical of Amazon Prime Air, despite the services successful tests in countries such as Canada, Norway, the Czech Republic, France, Poland, and Sweden. The FAA did allow Amazon to conduct very limited tests of its drones. The drones could only be flown during the day and not above four hundred feet. Amazon complained about these restrictions and instead has decided to collaborate with the United Kingdom government.
Tim Johnson, the CAA's policy director, stated, “These tests by Amazon will help inform our policy and future approach.”