Amazon is expanding its drone testing operation in the English countryside, to smooth the way for what it hopes will be an aerial package delivery system. But exactly where are the tests taking place?
In one of the fields, he found two bases that were located at each end of the acreage, about 400 meters (a quarter-mile) apart. Next to each of the bases, there were apparent landing spots made from patches of artificial grass.
The locale is near Amazon’s research and development center in Cambridge, which would make it handy for drone testing teams. But there’s at least one piece of evidence that’s missing: No drones were spotted.
Amazon typically doesn’t comment on its drone testing activities, but earlier this month, the BBC reported that locals and members of the Cambridge Aero Club have spotted drones flying over the 2,000-year-old Roman Road and Fleam Dyke trail.
Such reports were unsettling to Julia Napier, secretary of Friends of the Roman Road and Fleam Dyke. “People walk here to find peace,” she told the BBC. “The idea that drones can be whizzing over their heads, delivering parcels to people who cannot wait more than two days, who must have the new thing … means more noise in the countryside.”
The tests in England are being conducted in cooperation with the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority, which has given Amazon more latitude than the Federal Aviation Administration has been willing to give so far. Amazon has said it’s also testing drones in Canada, the Netherlands and on private property in Washington state.
Last year, GeekWire’s Jacob Demmitt paid a visit to an Amazon test site in rural Snoqualmie – and although he didn’t catch any drones in the act, he did come across some intriguing satellite photos on Google Maps. Sounds like the Cambridge countryside will be another place to watch.