Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, is testing unmanned drones to deliver goods to customers, according to Chief Executive Jeff Bezos.
The drones, called Octocopters, could deliver packages weighing up to 2.3kg to customers within 30 minutes of them placing the order, he said.
Bezos indicated that it could take up to four years for the service to start, possibly due to the fact that the US Federal Aviation Administration is yet to approve the use of unmanned drones for civilian purposes (although that permission is considered imminent).
“I know this looks like science fiction, but it’s not,” Mr Bezos told CBS television’s 60 Minutes programme.
“We can do half-hour delivery… and we can carry objects, we think, up to five pounds (2.3kg), which covers 86% of the items that we deliver.”
The service will be called Prime Air and comes as Amazon is looking to improve its efficiency to further strengthen its client relations and boost growth.
Civilian air space is expected to be opened up to all kinds of drones in the US by 2015 and in Europe by 2016. Bloomberg reports: “Expanded use of commercial drones is inevitable.”
Amazon said “from a technology point of view, we’ll be ready to enter commercial operations as soon as the necessary regulations are in place”.
The FAA was “actively working on rules for unmanned aerial vehicles”, the company said, adding that it hoped the green light would be given as early as 2015.
On its website Amazon wrote: “One day, Prime Air vehicles will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today.” Check out a video of Amazon demonstrating its Prime Air service below: