Amazon Drone Makes Retail Delivery In U.K.


An Amazon drone has made the online retailer’s first official customer delivery, dropping popcorn and a Fire TV media player at a British resident’s door. “First-ever #AmazonPrimeAir customer delivery is in the books,” Amazon’s Jeff Bezos tweeted Wednesday. The flight marks the launch of Prime Air, Amazon’s drone-to-door operation that has been in the works for several years. The company had ramped up outdoor flight testing this year at an undisclosed rural location in the U.K., where it had fewer restrictions on drone flying compared to the U.S. The first shipment by drone, made earlier this month to an anonymous customer, took 13 minutes to get a 4.7-pound package to a rural home near Cambridge, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Prime Air will begin with a couple of additional customers who live a few miles of an Amazon fulfillment center in the Cambridge area, The New York Times reported. The flights must take place in daylight hours in good weather, and the package weight limit is five pounds – which Amazon says will cover 87 percent of customer orders, according to the Journal report. The announcement comes about a year after Amazon revealed a 6-foot prototype drone and announced that retail deliveries are in “the not-too-distant future” as it perfects sense-and-avoid technology to allow the aircraft to fly out of operators’ line of sight and remain below 400 feet. The delivery this month puts Amazon ahead of companies such as Google and Flirtey, which have been testing package-carrying drones at designated research sites in the U.S., practicing tethered drops of items such as medicine and food from hovering drones.