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Amazon will deliver online shopping via unmanned drones

03 December 2013 - 13:14 by Mike Price

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This week Amazon's chief exec, Jeff Bezos, pulled back the curtains on a new service from the e-commerce giant called Prime Air.

It promises to deliver orders made online within 30 minutes of the transaction being completed, which is very quick, even for Amazon. But what makes this scheme particularly special is that the deliveries will not be carried out by traditional couriers, but unmanned aerial drones.

This may sound a little sinister, but it is good to see drones being put to use for practical purposes and not harnessed for spying or remote warfare.

Amazon Prime Air got its first airing during popular US current affairs programme, 60 Minutes, and Bezos explained that the drones would be able to carry any product weighing up to five pounds, or roughly 2.26kg. Almost nine out of 10 deliveries which Amazon sends out to its customers fall below this bracket, which is good news for those who want speedy arrival of their items.

Each of the drones has eight propeller blades, allowing for vertical takeoff like a helicopter and impressive manoeuvrability and general stability, which will be required for operation in urban environments.

It is worth pointing out that Bezos was not revealing that Amazon Prime Air is going live now, but merely indicating that it is being developed at the moment and that the retailer is hoping to acquire the necessary documentation to roll it out within the next half decade.

It will presumably be tested in the US first, before enabling people in the UK and further afield to make purchases online and get them within half an hour.

So could our skies soon be filled with drones, or is this an impractical idea that will only be used by a small number of people? Only time will tell.