As Amazon’s Chief Executive Jeff Bezos says, Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, is testing unmanned drones to deliver goods to customers. The drones, called Octocopters, could deliver packages weighing up to 2.3kg to customers within 30 minutes of them placing the order, he said.
A video posted on the company’s website shows a prototype drone. The body of the device is about the size of a flat-screen monitor, and it is attached to eight small helicopter rotors and sits on four tall legs.
The drone lifts off and whizzes into the air like a giant mechanical insect to deliver the package just 30 minutes after clicking the “pay” button on Amazon.com. Then it buzzes back into the air and returns to base.
The drones operate autonomously and follow the GPS coordinates they receive to drop the items off at target locations.
Amazon said the octocopters would be “ready to enter commercial operations as soon as the necessary regulations are in place,” noting that the Federal Aviation Administration was hard at work hammering out rules for the use of unmanned aerial vehicles.
However, it still has to wait for permission from US regulators.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved the use of drones for police and government agencies, issuing about 1,400 permits over the past several years.
Civilian air space is expected to be opened up to all kinds of drones in the US by 2015 and in Europe by 2016.