Drone home: Amazon to triple R&D staff at Cambridge base

Amazon is to more than triple its research and development team in Cambridge working on tech innovations such as its Alexa digital assistant, delivery drones and Echo smart speaker.

The US online retailer is opening a new building in the city with room for 400 experts in mathematical modelling, speech science, machine learning and “knowledge engineering”.

Once full, the 60,000 sq ft centre adjacent to Cambridge train station will increase the number of Amazon tech experts in the city to 550.

Amazon’s existing development centre in the city’s Castle Hill area will switch to focus on developing the company’s drone delivery system, Prime Air.

Prime Air successfully made its first trial delivery – a TV streaming stick and bag of popcorn – to the garden of a customer in Cambridge in December.

“We are constantly inventing on behalf of our customers, and our development centres in Cambridge, Edinburgh and London play a major role in Amazon’s global innovation story,” said Doug Gurr, UK country manager for Amazon.

“By the end of this year, we will have more than 1,500 innovation-related roles here in Britain, working on everything from machine learning and drone technology to streaming video technology and Amazon Web Services.”

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