Parcels could soon be delivered by drone as major trial begins next year

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Pilotless drone deliveries have moved a step closer after it was confirmed a test would be held in the new year.

An official trial will see an unmanned small aircraft tested beyond an operator’s visual line of sight, which is currently banned under normal aviation rules.

An operator in a control room ‘will monitor semi-autonomous drones being flown 50 miles away, initially carrying out inspections on construction sites’ in an advanced evaluation in February, the Times reported.

Amazon-style parcel deliveries from the air are not the only advantage that could be gained from pilotless drones.

Benefits could also include long-distance aerial surveys of infrastructure and construction, and surveying the scenes of accidents and crimes, according to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Currently, drone owners cannot fly above an altitude of 400 ft and must keep the aircraft within their direct line of sight so it does not collide with other aircraft.

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The Times reported West Sussex-based company would carry out the trial in February at a Skanska construction site using a DJI S900 drone inspecting work for engineers and architects.

The CAA has confirmed is developing technology for unmanned drone operations and said tests were planned with companies including Skanska.

Earlier this month, the CAA published a guide aimed at making unmanned drone flights an ‘everyday occurrence’.

David Tait, from the CAA, said: ‘Enabling everyday drone flying beyond visual line of sight is a game-changer, providing the opportunity for unmanned vehicles to monitor critical infrastructure, make deliveries and support our daily lives in an efficient and environmentally friendly way.”

‘We are now working closely with some of the world’s leading innovators to make these amazing possibilities a reality.’

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