Online retail giant Amazon has begun trials in the UK of a package delivery system using autonomous drones, which aims to deliver goods to customers within 30 minutes.
The Prime Air beta test is taking place in Cambridgeshire with two customers, with the first successful delivery having taken place earlier this month in 13 minutes from the moment the order was placed.
The trial will be expanded over the coming months to dozens of customers within a few miles of Amazon’s ‘Fulfilment Centre’, from where goods are dispatched.
A video demonstrates the system in action:
“Prime Air has great potential to enhance the services we already provide to millions of customers by providing rapid parcel delivery that will also increase the overall safety and efficiency of the transportation system,” Amazon says.
The trial sees the unmanned aerial vehicle make its way along a track from the Fulfilment Centre with a package — currently a maximum of 5lbs (2.26kg) — on board. It then takes off and cruises at a maximum of 400ft (121.9m) guided by GPS.
Once at its location, the drone lands on what appears to be an Amazon mat placed on the ground outside and drops the parcel off, before taking off and returning to its base.
The announcement comes in the same month it emerged Amazon employees in the US are testing the Amazon Go physical grocery store format that will use technology developed for self-driving cars to allow consumers with a dedicated mobile app to walk in, pick up the items they want and leave without going through a traditional checkout.