How Britain sees the drone revolution

Amazon drone
Amazon is testing its delivery drone system in Britain. (Amazon Photo)

Regulators have to work out lots of issues before they let drones start delivering packages routinely, but in Britain at least, there’s a timetable.

“We’ve got a soft target of 2020,” Michael Clark, deputy director at Britain’s Department for Transport, told GeekWire. And although the Federal Aviation Administration hasn’t announced its own timetable, 2020 could well be a soft target for U.S. operations as well.

Clark and other British transport officials discussed the U.K. perspective on unmanned aircraft systems last week while visiting the States for the Drone World Expo in San Jose, Calif.

Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority is playing a key role in Amazon’s plans to develop delivery drones, highlighted by the Seattle-based retailer’s flight test program near Cambridge.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos spoke warmly about the company’s relationship with British regulators last month at Seattle’s Museum of Flight. “We’re getting really good cooperation from the British equivalent of the FAA, the CAA,” he said. “It’s incredible. It’s really cool.”

For what it’s worth, the feeling is mutual: “Amazon is a pathfinder,” Clark said.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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