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Amazon To Open New U.K. R&D Center

Amazon continues to grow its operational footprint across the globe. Most recently, the online retail giant announced plans to open a new Research & Development (R&D) center in the U.K.

Scheduled for this coming fall in the east-English tech hub and university city of Cambridge, the R&D center will reportedly be able to house over 400 technicians, scientists and engineers.

The new center is part of Amazon’s broader push to continue to develop its presence in the U.K.

Since 2010, Amazon reports investing some $8.3 billion in its U.K. operations. Amazon has reportedly pledged to create 5,000 new roles across the country by the end of this year, to bring its U.K. workforce to 24,000.

“By the end of this year, we will have more than 1,500 innovation-related roles here in Britain,” Doug Gurr, U.K. country manager for Amazon, told Reuters. “Working on everything from machine learning and drone technology to streaming video technology and Amazon Web Services.”

Another major point of R&D for the new center includes technologies related to Amazon’s growing voice-activated ecosystem including AI voice-activated assistant Alexa and its smart speaker shell Echo.

Amazon already has a center in Cambridge, the center of a tech hub referred to as “Silicon Fen.” The existing location will be used to develop Amazon’s flight-based logistics and drone delivery initiative Prime Air.

At the end of last year, it came to light that Amazon had been testing its drone technology in U.K. airspace for much longer than initially believed.

Amazon has been in contact with the U.K.’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) since 2014 and had. been testing drones in U.K. airspace since summer 2015. Before the release of the documents, most were under the impression that Amazon’s drones had only come to the U.K. in the summer of 2016.

The CAA had granted Amazon special permissions to test its drone delivery technology in U.K. airspace.

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