Amazon is drawing up an army of drones to be tested in Cambridge, England, at Evi Technologies, which was bought two years back, as part of its expanding R&D operations to benefit from Cambridge’s cerebral talent.
Starting as an artificial intelligence firm specialising in "natural language" technologies, Evi Technologies will also be part of Amazon’s expansion plan, as Amazon devices are proposed to be fitted with voice recognition (soon to be made a standard feature for them). A speaker that is operated by means of spoken controls called Echo was launched in early November 2014.
An advertisement by Amazon called for "Flight test experience, manned or unmanned", in relation to various aviation related jobs in the UK, including Flight Operations Engineer, Software Develoment Engineer, Project Manager, senior research scientist and Site Leader.
Amazon might even use the experienced BAE Systems, Britain’s major defence contractors and manufacturers of military drones.
Drones flying around a height of 150m in populated areas is currently banned by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), although "there are no established operating guidelines", as admitted by CAA.
The focus is on the drone project Prime Air (developed in the US), as per reports. The announcement was made in December 2013 by founder Jeff Bezos that drones were being considered for rapid package delivery to customers, but was believed to be a publicity stunt.
In July 2014, Amazon confirmed that it had requested the permission of the US Federal Aviation Administration for the testing of these drones, which could reach speeds of up to 50 miles per hour, carrying packages that weighed less than 2.3kg or 5lb, sustainable for a period of 30 minutes.
Three months back, Amazon had experimented extensively in Queensland, Australia.
Drone-testing is the latest strategy of Amazon to discover quicker ways of delivery than the present overnight service it runs. According to the Wall Street Journal, it even tried shuttling taxis between Los Angeles and San Francisco, making same location bound multiple deliveries.
Introducing a same-day collection called Pass My Parcel brand in Britain, in October, Amazon used a 500-strong network of convenience stores and newsagents for the service, which was offered to those customers signing up to the £79 per year Amazon Prime.
Flying a fixed-wing four-rotor delivery drone this summer, Google too demonstrated package delivery in the Australian outback in the form of dog treats and cattle vaccines.
German courier DHL too experimented with this drone delivery system, delivering medication and other emergency goods in the form of small parcels, by an autonomous quadcopter, to a sandbar island named Juist in the North Sea, off the German coast. After launching its "parcelcopter" project, DHL announced a regular drone service in September 2014.