Internet retailer Amazon has revealed it has made its first drone delivery in Europe and the first ever directly to a customer.
It happened on December 7 in Britain, where earlier this year the authorities gave permission for drone test flights with restrictions on where they can take place.
The autonomous drone carried one of the company’s TV streaming devices and a bag of popcorn and dropped them off on the lawn of a house near Cambridge, not far from the distribution centre where the drones are based.
Amazon said the delivery occured 13 minutes after the order was received online.
It released a video documenting the delivery in which the narrator said: “We’re starting with two customers now and in the coming months we’ll offer participation to dozens of customers living within several miles of our UK facility, and then growing to hundreds more.”
Amazon is also running a trial programme in the United States and in July made the first drone delivery there to a ’7-Eleven’ convenience store in Reno, Nevada. It transported a chicken sandwich, coffee and a donut.
Vive le drone
At the same time in France the civil aviation authority gave permission for a subsidiary of the French post office to run a trial delivering packages by drone once a week on a single 15-kilometre route in Provence in the south-east of the country.
That follows two years of testing by La Poste’s DPDgroup subsidiary.
The French drone will be controlled by an operator at all times, unlike the Amazon ones which rely on GPS to fly to and from their delivery destinations.
DPDgroup said this represents a “a new way of addressing the problem of the last kilometre, especially for access to hard-to-reach areas”.
It will deliver to a special terminal at an industrial park where a number of tech start-ups are based and will also be able to collect parcels.