Amazon 'lays off 100 employees' in drone delivery unit

Amazon has laid off or reassigned over 100 employees at its Prime Air team, according to sources reported by Wired.

The project, launched in 2016, was aimed at testing sub-30 min drone deliveries.

The online retail giant had been testing drones at a site in Cambridge since the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) lifted its strict drone flying restrictions in 2016.

Prime Air is still planning a partial launch in 2022 according to sources reported by Wired.

The anonymous unconfirmed sources claimed the project was “collapsing inwards” and made allegations about an employee “drinking beer at their desk in the morning.”

The news comes as drone-based deliveries are increasing seeing real-world implementations; Tesco is reportedly set to quadruple the size of its ongoing drone delivery trial in the Republic of Ireland.

Drone delivery technology is seeing high levels of investment worldwide; Zipline has doubled its valuation to $2.75 billion, following a $250 million funding round in July.

Retail Systems has contacted Amazon for comment.

"We recently made organizational changes in our Prime Air business and were able to find positions for affected employees in other areas where we were hiring," said an Amazon spokesperson. "We remain committed to our Development Centre in Cambridge, UK, where Amazon has hundreds of talented engineers, research scientists, and technology experts working across a range of innovations.”
“Prime Air continues to have employees in the UK and will keep growing its presence in the region."

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