What are Amazon's 'brainboxes' working on in Cambridge?

Hundreds of new staff will develop 'everything from machine learning to streaming video technology'

Amazon logo
(Image credit: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty)

Amazon is to hire 400 extra staff to work in a new R&D centre in Cambridge, bringing to 1,500 the total number of its UK employees working on new "innovations".

UK country manager Doug Gurr said: "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."

There will also be a new, purpose-built headquarters measuring 60,000sq-ft built near the railway station. At the moment, Amazon staff are dotted around the city in several locations.

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Staff will work on existing Amazon tech such as Alexa, the company's home assistant rival to Apple's Siri, and Google Home. They will also work on the AI software which powers Alexa and other innovations.

Amazon's existing Castle Hill office will stay open and will switch to working exclusively on Prime Air, the company's mooted drone delivery system.

Additionally, Amazon also appears to be working on a UK version of the checkout-free grocery shop it has been trialling in the US, says The Guardian.

Amazon Go brand allows customers to fill their baskets and leave with the purchases without going through a till. Sensors charge their online Amazon accounts instead.

The concept has been tested near the company's global HQ in Seattle, but there have been a few "technical glitches" and public opening has been delayed, says the newspaper.

Other technology which may be developed in Cambridge includes Echo Look, a smart camera which utilises Alexa to give fashion advice to users.

Amazon plans to have 15 delivery warehouses open in the UK by the end of 2017, adds the Guardian. It opened a new site in Daventry in February and warehouses are planned this year in Doncaster, Warrington and Tilbury.

The firm's total UK workforce will grow from 19,000 to 24,000 this year.

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