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Amazon looks set to ramp up Prime Air development at new R&D base in UK

It’s almost a year since Amazon boss Jeff Bezos announced his plan for a drone-based delivery service, and while at the time many commentators sniggered at the idea, or simply dismissed it as an elaborate publicity stunt, it’s clear the company continues to consider it as a serious goal.

More evidence of its determination to move ahead with the ambitious project comes via a TechCrunch report this week that suggests the e-commerce giant is preparing to open a huge R&D site in the British city of Cambridge.

According to TechCrunch’s unnamed source, the e-commerce giant will use its new R&D center to focus mainly on developing and testing its Prime Air delivery drone, though it will also serve to boost the research team at Evi, the Cambridge-based speech-recognition technology firm that Amazon acquired last year.

With its world renowned university in the vicinity, and a slew of successful technology firms emerging from the famous educational establishment, the Web company will be hoping to attract to its team talented Cambridge-based individuals specializing in tech and related areas.

Job ads

Prime Air-related job ads for positions located in Cambridge have been appearing throughout the year as Amazon prepares to take the drone’s development to the next level at its new R&D center.

One position, posted by Amazon just last week, is for a flight operations engineer with at least five years of experience.

“If you’re seeking an iterative fast-paced environment where you can drive innovation, apply state-of-the-art technologies to solve extreme-scale real world challenges, and provide visible benefit to end-users, this is your opportunity,” the description reads, adding that the job involves ensuring “the safety and professionalism of our flight program,” among other things.

Challenges

If Bezos does manage to get his drone service off the ground – and judging by the amount of resources he’s putting into it, there’s a fair chance he will – the flying machines will likely only deliver small packages to Amazon customers living close to its fulfillment centers.

And even though Bezos appears confident he can build a Prime Air team capable of overcoming any technical challenges that come its way, the CEO admitted early on that “the hardest challenge in making this happen is going to be demonstrating this to the standards of the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) that this is a safe thing to do.”