Amazon has successfully completed its first Prime Air drone delivery.
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Richard B. of Cambridgeshire, England, last week received an Amazon Fire TV Stick and bag of Propercorn popcorn via unmanned aerial vehicle.
The shipment came as part of a new private trial for customers in the Cambridge area, who can choose from a selection of thousands of items in a Prime Air fulfillment center "just over the horizon from their homes," the company said in a video (below).
Amazon has been working on Prime Air since at least 2013, promising half-hour, same-day delivery. But the US has been slow to approve drone regulations.
Officials here only just released final rules, more than a year after Paul Misener, Amazon's vice president of global innovation policy and communications, complained to Congress that the FAA dragged its feet on giving Amazon permission to test out unmanned aircraft for delivery purposes.
"Obtaining permission took far too long, and certainly much longer … than it took in other countries," he said at the time. As a result, Amazon looked to countries like the UK for less restrictive testing areas.
Supported by Britain's aviation safety regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Amazon over the summer began testing beyond-line-of-sight operations and sensor performance, as well as flights where one person operates multiple highly automated drones.
The system is simple: Customers place an order online; the item (up to 5 pounds in weight) is then locked in a plastic container attached to a drone, which buzzes away and drops the package at your doorstep—or in Richard of Cambridgeshire's case, on a target in his backyard.
In May 2015, Amazon earned a patent for a retail delivery system using unmanned aircraft—the first of many steps toward drone shipments.