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Amazon testing drones for delivering parcels

LONDON: In partnership with British Government, Amazon has run its first test for examining the practicality of delivering the small parcels by drones.

Amazon was given permission by a cross-government team assisted by Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to explore three key areas; operation beyond lines of sight, obstacle avoidance and where a single person operates many autonomous drones.

The company will run test to examine the feasibility of drones carrying the deliveries of 5lb (2.3kg) or less, which makes the 90% of Amazon’s sales.

The priority of the test would be making it sure that the drone delivery did not affect airspace users, said the CAA representative.

During the test drone is restricted not to fly higher than 400ft (122m) as the standard for private drone operations and stay away from operating airport flight-paths.

An Amazon spokesperson said the top priority of the tests is to make sure the system can operate run safely. “We’re not going to launch until we can demonstrate safety, and that’s what this programme is going to do,” further she said.

“We want to enable the innovation that arises from the development of drone technology by safely integrating drones into the overall aviation system,” Tim Johnson, CAA policy director, said. “These tests by Amazon will help inform our policy and future approach.”

Besides Amazon’s granted the permission for drone testing in UK, the current legislation spells out that drones cannot be flown within 50 meters of a building or a person, or within 150 metres of a built-up area and drones have to be in sight of pilot within 500 meters which the companies had never thought of.

It is mandatory for a pilot to complete a training course and apply for a permit from CAA to fly drone for commercial purpose.

Amazon is also running tests in US where they are dealing with some restrictions. The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) allowed commercial drones to fly within the sight of pilot and each drone must have its own pilot. Both, the payload and drone should weigh less than 55lb (25kg) and they can only fly during daylight, 30 minutes before the sunrise until 30 minutes after the sunset.

Image: Forbes