Amazon.com unveiled a new prototype Sunday called Prime Air, which would revolutionize the online mega-retailer's delivery service by deploying unmanned octocopter drones to drop off packages at customers' front doors.
"These are effectively drones but there’s no reason that they can’t be used as delivery vehicles," Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos told CBS television's "60 Minutes" program late Sunday
. "I know this looks like science fiction. It's not. We can do half-hour delivery… and we can carry objects, we think, up to five pounds (2.3 kilograms), which covers 86 percent of the items that we deliver."
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Bezos said the drones, dubbed "octocopters," should be ready for actual deliveries in four or five years, or as soon as federal rules change to allow drones to fly autonomously.
"It won't work for everything," Bezos said. "We're not going to deliver kayaks or table saws this way."
This isn't the first time a mainstream company has experimented with delivery drones. Over the summer, Domino's Pizza tested its DomiCopter
, which brought piping hot pizzas directly to customers.
Bezos said there are still some safety kinks to work out with its Prime Air service.
"The hard part here is putting in all the redundancy, all the reliability, all the systems you need to say, 'Look, this thing can’t land on somebody’s head while they’re walking around their neighborhood,'" he said.
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