Amazon is testing drones called "Octocopters" which could potentially deliver customers' orders in half an hour.
Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos told America’s CBS television programme "60 Minutes" yesterday (1st December) that the unmanned drones would be powered by electric motors, fly through the air and deliver packages up to 2.3kg, which make up 86% of the online retailer’s orders.
The drones would cover a 10-mile radius from distribution centres and use GPS co-ordinates to drop packages at customers’ doors. However, Bezos said it could take up to five years for the service to start.
"I know this looks like science fiction, but it's not," Mr Bezos told "60 Minutes". "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 would be called Prime Air. However, the company would have to gain permission from US regulators before it could start running the service. Civilian air space is expected to be opened up to all kinds of drones in the US by 2015 and in Europe by 2016.
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".
"One day, Prime Air vehicles will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today."
Bookseller Waterstones has wasted no time in creating a spoof video describing how it will begin delivering books via owls. Head of press Jon Howells explains how the company is “excited” to announce the Ornithological Waterstones Landing Service, a new way for customers to receive the books they have ordered. “O.w.l.s consists of a fleet of specially trained owls that are even working individually or as an adorable team will be able to deliver your package within 30 minutes of your placing your order,” Howells says.
Meanwhile another journalist has gone undercover at an Amazon warehouse. Writer Carole Cadwalladr spent a week working in Amazon’s warehouse in Swansea as orders heated up for Christmas. She wrote in the Observer: “Amazon isn't responsible for the wider economy, but it's the wider economy that makes the Amazon model so chilling. It's not just the nicey nice jobs that are becoming endangered, such as working in a bookshop, as Hugh Grant did in 'Notting Hill', or a record store, as the hero did in Nick Hornby's High Fidelity, or the jobs that have gone at Borders and Woolworths and Jessops and HMV, it's pretty much everything else too.”