Credit: Amazon

Amazon is planning to develop delivery drones in Cambridge

The ecommerce giant is investing in R&D operations in East Anglia's tech hub.

by Jack Torrance
Last Updated: 24 Feb 2016

As MT noted yesterday, Apple's reported plans to open an R&D centre in Cambridge would leave it in good company. 'Silicon Fen' has a much lower media profile than London's Silicon Roundabout, yet it also has a much better established high-tech pedigree that stretches back decades.

Now it seems that Amazon wants in on the action. The ecommerce giant is planning to expand its own R&D facilities in the city and is looking to hire specialists in aviation technology as it develops its automated delivery drones programme Amazon Prime Air, Tech Crunch reported.

The drones, first announced last year, were initially written off as a publicity stunt by some and many still expect the plans to come to nothing, but this latest expansion is a sign that Jeff Bezos is taking the idea very seriously.

It's easy to see why – one of the few parts of its supply chain over which Amazon now has little control is delivery, which is usually completed by local postal services or couriers. But given the technological and logistical complexity and the regulatory issues involved, MT doesn't anticipate seeing a sky criss-crossed with flying barbecues anytime soon.

Amazon is also advertising more jobs at Cambridge-based subsidiary Evi which it acquired in 2012. The startup developed an artificial intelligence app similar to the iPhone's Siri and is now looking for software developers and quality testers as it expands. Amazon is thought to be keen on developing the technology to make more of its devices voice activated and streamline the shopping process.

The behemoth has come a long way from just being a website where you can buy books and it continues to expand into new markets and develop new retail technology. It's been experimenting with click-and-collect lockers in shops, petrol forecourts and train stations and in the US it's also moved into fresh grocery deliveries - watch out Tesco.

There's even murmurings that it could be planning to open a full-on bricks and mortar shop, perhaps the most revolutionary move such a digitally-orientated company could make. 


Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Mike Ashley: Does it matter if the public hates you right now?

The Sports Direct founder’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has drawn criticism, but in the...

4 films to keep you sane during the coronavirus lockdown

Cirrus CEO Simon Hayward shares some choices to put things in perspective.

Pandemic ends public love affair with Richard Branson et al

Opinion: The larger-than-life corporate mavericks who rose to prominence in the 80s and 90s suddenly...

The Squiggly Career: How to be a chief strengths spotter

When leading remotely, it's more important than ever to make sure your people spend their...

"Blind CVs don't improve your access to talent"

Opinion: If you want to hire socially mobile go-getters, you need to know the context...

The highs and lows of being a super-achiever

Pay it Forward podcast: techUK boss Jacqueline de Rojas and Google UK's marketing strategy and...