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Keeping up with the Droneses

So I’m a bit late to the party here, but I just found out that DHL are already using drones to deliver small packages to the German island of Juist. Meaning DHL beat Amazon to the goalposts and just decided not to make a song and dance over it.

What’s even more interesting is that DHL only operate their drones below 50 metres, so that they don’t have to get air traffic control involved. This comes after Amazon have been going to some great lengths to get permission from the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) and the UK Government to test their drones.

Now that they have permission, there’s speculation flying around (pardon the pun) about where these drones are being tested. Daniel Buchmueller, the head of Amazon’s drone development division in the UK confirmed it is somewhere outdoors in the UK.

More recently, a Cambridge-based nature group has complained about the drones being tested causing a nuisance to the local wildlife. Proof, perhaps, that the testing area is located close to Amazon’s research and development facility in Cambridge. But I call conspiracy – I heard that electric drill noise coming from above my South Yorkshire home the other day to find a drone just hovering there for at least five minutes.

There is the possibility it was just a neighbour playing with a new toy, but it looked like an extremely expensive piece of kit. And I’m pretty sure the average drone-enthusiast would want to do more with it than just send it up in the air to hover there for a few minutes.

There’s a large Amazon distribution facility nearby, so I believe they will be testing in suburban areas and keeping it on the down-low. They did, after all, start the hype over the new Prime Air concept as early as December 2013. DHL launched their Parcelcopter initiative only nine months after research began!