Amazon has cut back its Cambridge drone delivery project, shooting down hopes of airborne package drop-offs in the near future.
The US technology giant has reportedly slashed up to 100 staff at its Prime Air division, many of them in Cambridge, where the online retailer has been testing unmanned drone deliveries from a secret airfield.
The $1.7 trillion (£1.2 trillion) company has reassigned many of the team who had worked on the Prime Air project, originally announced in 2013, Wired magazine reported.
Amazon set up a base in the UK for the project and secured special permission from the Civil Aviation Authority to test its drones in 2016. It made its first trial delivery on December 7 and at the time promised to launch a small pilot service to dozens of homes.
However, there have been few updates on the secretive project in the UK since then.
In 2019, Amazon revealed an autonomous drone design in Las Vegas, promising that it would be delivering “within months”. It was not until September 2020 that Amazon received permission from US authorities to begin wider tests.
Insiders at Amazon’s UK Prime Air division told Wired the project was “never going to get off the ground” and had dissolved into “organised chaos”.
Some projects were relocated to the US or Costa Rica, while an analysis of LinkedIn shows a slew of machine learning experts and flight operators leaving the division in June and July.