Tuesday 4 August 2020 11:52 am

Amazon almost doubles size of UK Prime Air drone delivery arm

Amazon has ramped up expansion of its ambitious drone delivery project, almost doubling the number of staff in its Cambridge-based Prime Air team.

Prime Air now has close to 60 staff working on making Amazon deliveries by drone a reality, its largest since the project began in 2016, data on Linkedin showed.

Its most recent hires have included several “flight operators” who would fly the drones, the Telegraph first reported.

The increase is part of Amazon’s pledge to hire more than 2,000 people across the UK last year, including over 170 roles at its tech hubs in Cambridge, London and Edinburgh.

Read more: Amazon to create 2,000 UK jobs in ‘clear vote of confidence’ post-Brexit

The Cambridge base is one of Amazon’s biggest research and development facilities in the country, where engineers and designers work on Prime Air drones as well as Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa.

Amazon said last summer it was aiming to begin launching the drones within months, which could travel “up to 15 miles and deliver packages under five pounds to customers in less than 30 minutes”. 

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The tech giant significantly out-performed expectations in its second quarter, jumping past profit estimates despite having warned earlier this year that it may face a loss due to the pandemic.

Read more: Amazon blows past estimates in revenue and profit beat

Innovation in drone delivery has garnered more focus in recent months, as ministers seek ways to help improve access to resources during the coronavirus crisis.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps in April said the government would be launching a trial of drone delivery tools in the Isle of Wight, while legislators seek to revamp rules that require drones to be in sight at all times.

A white paper was submitted to the government last month which called for the development of new testing grounds for drone deliveries, in order to ensure public safety while advancing technological innovation in the sector.

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