On 7 December, Amazon’s Prime Air made its first commercial delivery with an unmanned drone. The delivery took place in Cambridgeshire, near Amazon’s UK drone-testing plant, where the company has been working with the government to test longer-distance deliveries. Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, broke the news on Twitter, announcing that his company delivered a parcel containing electronics and popcorn to a customer’s home, from a nearby Amazon fulfillment center. Unlike normal fulfilment centers, the Cambridgeshire facility boasts an adjacent semi-automated drone loading and launching platform. The delivery itself lasted 13 minutes, during which the drone traveled about two miles. After this first delivery, Amazon said it planned to expand the Cambridgeshire drone test operations.
Regulatory hang-ups in the US forced Amazon to move much of its commercial testing operations to the UK, where regulators have been more forward-looking than their US counterparts. “The UK is a leader in enabling drone innovation,” said Paul Misener, Amazon’s vice president of global innovation policy and communications. “This announcement strengthens our partnership with the UK and brings Amazon closer to our goal of using drones to safely deliver parcels in 30 minutes to customers in the UK and elsewhere around the world.”
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