The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has refused to reveal where Amazon is testing drones in the UK.
The cofounder of Amazon’s Prime Air business, Daniel Buchmueller, revealed in a talk earlier this month that Amazon’s largest outdoor drone testing site is somewhere in the UK, without specifying exactly where it is.
Following the talk, Amazon’s media team declined to say where in the UK the drones are being tested so Business Insider decided to ask the CAA.
But in a Freedom of Information response received on Thursday, the CAA also refused to say where Amazon is flying its drones. The regulator knows the address but it said it can’t disclose it for legal reasons.
Here is a copy of the relevant part of the FoI response:
Several Business Insider sources have suggested that the site is somewhere in Cambridgeshire, which would make sense as Amazon has an R&D facility in the city.
Trade publication TechWeekEurope discovered a NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) was established for an area just east of a village called Worsted Lodge, close to Sawston, in Cambridgeshire. The notice alerts air traffic that unmanned aerial vehicle (UAVs) flights will be taking place on October 5. However, it’s unclear whether the UAVs in this instance belong to Amazon, another company, or simply a hobbyist.
Further supporting the theory that Amazon’s largest outdoor drone testing site is somewhere in Cambridgeshire is the fact that the company has been recruiting drone operators in the region. Amazon also acquired a speech tech startup called Evi Technologies in 2014.
TechCrunch reported that Amazon was going to test drones on a site in Cambridge that it acquired at the time of the acquisition but the publication didn’t say whether these tests were going to be outdoors, or indeed where the site was.
Buchmueller said the battery-powered vehicles rise vertically like a helicopter up to 400 feet before flying up to 15 miles at speeds of up to 50mph. The 25kg drones are highly automated and designed to carry packages up to 2kg in weight.
Amazon has over a dozen prototype drones in operation worldwide. They are also being tested in the US, Austria, and Israel.
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Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.
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