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Amazon experiments with drone deliveries in Belgium

Amazon is testing the potential of parcel delivery by drones at a new facility in Belgium.

The SAFIR consortium has launched the DronePort facility at a disused airport in the Belgian province of Limberg as well as in the port of the city of Antwerp.

The online marketplace’s Amazon Prime Air arm will test and demonstrate drone flights alongside a range of other companies, including the likes of drone software company Unifly and telecoms operator Proximus (pictured).

The campus consists of in and outdoor test zones where drones can be flown higher than normally permitted, as well as a runway.

Mark Vanlook, MD of DronePort, said: “We immediately put DronePort on the world map. And the fact that international companies find their way to the campus so quickly means that this does not happen anywhere else in Europe. This consortium offers an unmatched potential for expertise exchange between companies on DronePort.”

Amazon has been exploring the potential of drones since 2013 at latest, when CEO Jeff Bezos outlined the strategy publicly. In December 2016, the company successfully delivered a package via Prime Air in Cambridge, England. The drone required no human control whatsoever and carried a package containing an Amazon Fire TV box.

Other companies exploring the potential of drones for deliveries include UPS, which began trials last year of technology which could allow drivers to send drones to do short-range deliveries in rural areas.

Alongside drones, autonomous ground vehicles have been proposed as a way of cutting costs, with Starship Technologies recently launching an autonomous package delivery service in Milton Keynes.

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