Amazon the online retail company is investing millions in it’s Prime Air drone services after opening the doors of a new development facility in Cambridge.
The new 60,000sqft building, which will house over 400 scientists, engineers, data scientists, mathematical modellers, speech scientists and software engineers, is part of Amazon’s expansion plans in Cambridge.
The new building is Amazon’s second development centre site in the Cambridge city centre and is housing research and development teams working on a range of projects that serve customers around the world including.
Most of the visible progress with Prime Air has happened since the end of 2016. The first prime air drone delivery happened in December 2016, when an actual package was delivered to a customer on the rural outskirts of Cambridge.
The company is gradually expanding service in the area, thanks to a favorable regulatory environment created by U.K. authorities.
Prime Air Delivery System
The new centre will work towards developing Prime Air, Amazon’s future delivery system designed to safely get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less using small unmanned aerial vehicles, as well as Amazon Alexa, the brain that powers devices such as Amazon Echo, Echo Dot and Echo Show.
Amazon Prime Air are experimenting with a number for different drone designs and packaging methods. Their drones may or may not have cameras, as a visible record of delivery and ID.
Digital minister, Matt Hancock, said: “I’m delighted Amazon has chosen the UK for its new research and development centre. This will create hundreds of highly skilled jobs and sends a clear signal to the world we are open for business.
“We’re determined to make the UK the best place to start and grow a digital firm, are working hard to deliver our groundbreaking Digital Strategy and Amazon’s latest investment is another boost for our world-leading digital economy.”
Doug Gurr, UK country manager at Amazon, added: “The exciting and innovative new products and services developed here will benefit millions of customers around the world, complementing the work that goes on in our other development centres in London and Edinburgh. I hope this new building will contribute towards our global innovation story with voice recognition, streaming video, machine learning and drone technology all being developed right here in the UK.”
The new facility is part of Amazon’s significant investment in the UK, with the company investing more than £6.4bn in the UK in building and running its operations since 2010.
Amazon have Prime Air development centers in the United States, the United Kingdom, Austria, France and Israel. We are testing the vehicles in multiple international locations.
Some Prime Air Key Questions
In answer to the question about weather conditions Amazon say:
We are currently permitted to operate during daylight hours when there are low winds and good visibility, but not in rain, snow or icy conditions. Once we’ve gathered data to improve the safety and reliability of our systems and operations, we will expand the envelope.
About the question of airspace management Amazon say:
We believe the airspace is safest when small drones are separated from most manned aircraft traffic, and where airspace access is determined by capabilities. To learn more, here is the link to their airspace proposals.