Amazon's first live drone delivery flew last week in Cambridge, UK

Beta is available to two customers for now. More coming soon, promise


Amazon.com has revealed that it's made its first delivery by autonomous aerial drone, to a chap named “Richard B” who lives somewhere in Cambridgeshire, England.

Richard ordered a bag of popcorn and an Amazon Fire TV.

Amazon's released a saccharine video to mark the occasion. If you'd rather not endure it embedded below, the salient points are:

  • The drones are powered by electricity;
  • The drones are loaded in an Amazon warehouse, are then placed on a on a platform that's mounted on rails. The platform slides out of the building and at the end of the line the drone buzzes off into the sky;
  • It looks like a human operator oversees the launch, but we don't see a human with override of the autonomous flight as required by UK law;
  • Order-to-delivery time of 30 minutes gets a mention;
  • Richard B's home is in a rural area surrounded by open ground;
  • The drone lands well clear of his home, on a small target placed on the ground;
  • Amazon says the drone flies at “under 400 feet” and can lift “under five pounds";
  • The beta will expand to “hundreds” of customers in coming weeks and months;
  • Delivery will be possible “within several miles” of Amazon's shed;
  • A limited range of products is on offer: the video mentions electronics, snacks and pet food.

There's not much else we can tell you: Amazon's only released a little information and that was carefully-packaged.

We can say that Amazon's clearly getting quite close to making drone deliveries a reality, while also wondering if the rural setting for the test indicates the system may not yet be ready to fly in denser urban environments. ®

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