Amazon testing drones for parcel delivery

Octocopters would pick up customer order and deliver using GPS co-ordinates

This undated image provided by Amazon.com shows the so-called Prime Air unmanned aircraft project that Amazon is working on in its research and development labs. Photograph: AP Photo/Amazon

This undated image provided by Amazon.com shows the so-called Prime Air unmanned aircraft project that Amazon is working on in its research and development labs. Photograph: AP Photo/Amazon

Tue, Dec 3, 2013, 06:15

Amazon is testing delivering its parcels using drones, the company’s chief executive has revealed. The company hopes to have the scheme up and running within five years.

Jeff Bezos unveiled the idea, which would be known as Amazon Prime Air, on the American news programme 60 Minutes on Sunday night.

“The big idea is half-hour delivery,” he said. “You order something and within half an hour you can have a drone land on your front porch, drop off a little box and off it goes.”

Octocopters would pick up a yellow box containing a customer’s order and then fly it to the customer’s address using GPS co-ordinates.

It would then drop it in the front yard as long as it is within a 10-mile radius of a “fulfilment centre”. Amazon has tested drone delivery at one of its centres in Virginia and Mr Bezos said the toughest part of the scheme was demonstrating to the Federal Aviation Administration that it was safe.

“I don’t want anyone to think this is just around the corner,” he said. “This is years of additional work – I’m an optimist – four or five years.”

Mr Bezos was hopeful the scheme will be operating in major cities in America sometime in 2015.

He added that the drones would be “very green” because they would burn far less petrol than delivery trucks.

It not known when Amazon would look at expanding the drone delivery system outside the US. The service may have difficulty coming to countries, including Australia, with strict laws in place to control the use of drones.

In Australia, drones are not allowed to be used in heavily populated areas and have to be 30 metres away from buildings and people at all times. Pilotless drones – being used with no-one in control of a remote – are also banned.

The news has divided opinion on Twitter, some people tweeting their concerns about the potential damage Amazon drones could do if they crashed, others taking it with a grain of salt. – (Guardian service)