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Amazon partners with the UK to test its delivery drones

Amazon may soon be delivering packages via drones thanks to a new partnership with the British government that will allow it to significantly expand its drone testing in the UK.

Britain's aviation regulator has decided to allow the company to test out several aspects of its drone technology that it has been unable to get approved by regulators in the United States.

Amazon especially wants to see how its drones will operate beyond the line of sight of its operators. The company is also interested to see if a single operator will be able to coordinate multiple drones at once and how its drones will fair making deliveries at night.

Amazon's vice president of global innovation policy and communications, Paul Misener released a statement regarding the new partnership in which he said: “The UK is a leader in enabling drone innovation. 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 in the world.”

The US Federal Aviation Administration (F.A.A.) has turned down requests from Amazon, Google and other drone manufacturers to perform the necessary tests to see if package delivery via drones would be feasible. The UK's decision to allow Amazon to test its drones will likely make the F.A.A reconsider allowing the testing of drones for deliveries in the US.

Amazon will work closely British regulators to test drones in rural and suburban areas that have the ability to fly beyond the line of sight of their operators. The company will also test the technology it has developed to allow its drones to automatically detect and avoid planes, buildings and people.

Britain's Civil Aviation Authority has said that it may also enter into partnerships with other commercial drone makers similar to the one it has entered into with Amazon.

The policy director of the Civil Aviation Authority, Tim Johnson explained why it has decided to partner with Amazon: “We want to enable the innovation that arises from the development of drone technology by safely integrating drones into the overall aviation system. These tests by Amazon will help inform our policy and future approach.”

Image Credit: Brendan Howard / Shutterstock

Anthony Spadafora
After living and working in South Korea for seven years, Anthony now resides in Houston, Texas where he writes about a variety of technology topics for ITProPortal.