Paul Misener, Amazon’s vice president of global innovation policy and communications, said the tests will aid the company transport closer to achieving its goal “of using drones to safely deliver parcels in 30 minutes to customers in the UK and elsewhere around the earth”.

“Using small drones for the delivery of parcels will improve customer experience, create recent jobs in a rapidly growing industry, and pioneer recent sustainable delivery methods to meet future demand,” Misener said. “The UK is charting a path forward for drone technology that will benefit consumers, industry and society.”

Amazon said “three answer innovations” will be place to the test in its trials. It will explore using drones “beyond line of sight operations in rural and suburban areas”, and assess whether sensor technology can be relied upon to ensure drones “identify and avoid obstacles”. Amazon will also tote out “flights where single person operates multiple highly-automated drones”, it said.

The retail giant has been granted permission from the CAA to tote out the tests.

CAA policy director Tim Johnson said: “We crave to enable the innovation that arises from the development of drone technology by safely integrating drones into the overall aviation system. These tests by Amazon will aid inform our policy and future approach.”

In the UK, commercial employ of unmanned aircraft is prohibited without the acquiesce of the CAA.

Ben Gardner of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said that the existing ‘dronecode’ issued by the CAA, in conjunction with air traffic control service NATS and BALPA, the pilots’ union, lacks detail and that a more robust regulatory framework would be welcome.

“The test provides a answer opportunity for the government and the CAA to develop a more robust legal framework to regulate the employ of drone technology in the UK,” Gardner said. “The current dronecode which has been formulated by the CAA is light touch and lacks real ‘teeth’.”

“Whilst the test appears to be aimed at looking at how the CAA and government can develop detailed legal rules around operation, there are wider implications around issues such as health and safety, insurance and data protection. By way of example, as soon as the drones are out of the operator’s line of sight, cameras are likely to be used to navigate the drones. This could bring about privacy issues depending on what data is captured by the cameras and how it is used,” he said.

“With increasing reports of ‘closeby misses’ with aircraft and usage in built up public areas, a chance to introduce more detailed regulations in this area is welcome. As with driverless vehicle trials, the journey to mainstream employ of drones for deliveries will be an interesting single paved with legal, ethical and social questions,” Gardner said.