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Spires could help drones take off

29 July 2016


Inspection: a drone collects data at St Nicolas's, St Nicholas, Vale of Glamorgan, last month

Inspection: a drone collects data at St Nicolas's, St Nicholas, Vale of Glamorgan, last month

CHURCH spires could be drafted into a high-tech network of charg­ing stations for autonomous flying deliv­ery drones, the US e-com­merce company Amazon has suggested.

In a patent filed in 2014 but ap­­proved earlier this month, Ama­zon revealed it hopes to build small plat­forms on top of tall structures that would act as battery re­-charging stations and waypoints for its projected fleet of drones deliv­ering small parcels. Among the sites proposed to build on were church steeples, as well as street lights, mobile phone masts, telephone poles, or even tall office buildings.

The platforms would provide a space for the drones, which can fly for only approximately 20 minutes before running out of power, to re­­charge their batteries, share data with an Amazon warehouse, and even swap parcels with other drones.

Amazon announced its plans to deliver online shopping via drones in 2013, but the project has been slow to take to the skies. But on Mon­day, the firm said that it had agreed to join the UK Gov­ernment and the Civil Aviation Authority in testing delivery drones in Britain.

When, or if, the service is launched, Amazon aims to deliver small parcels weighing up to 25 kg within half-an-hour of ordering, if your location is within ten miles of one of the company’s warehouses.

Paul Misener from Amazon said: “The UK is charting a path forward for drone technology that will bene­fit consumers, industry, and society.”

It was not clear if the com­pany had reckoned with the Church of Eng­­land’s faculty rules, or the UK’s list­­ing system for protected build­ings, when it proposed using church spires for its drone stations.

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