While more commonly associated with covert operations by military types, the drones could be delivering e-commerce packages as soon as 2015. Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive of Amazon.com, announced recently that his company was working on a system to deliver small packages to customers within 30 minutes or less of ordering them. They will do this using tiny unmanned aircraft that can carry packages weighing around 2kg up to 16km.
The only real barrier to the service – christened Amazon Prime Air – is whether the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will give its permission for this unprecedented use of the airways over major American cities. Amazon is not the first company to tap this innovative use of drones, Zookal, an Australian textbook rental service, has promised to start using drones for deliveries in Sydney as early as next year with a fleet of six drones. And in China, SF Express started limited live trials of package deliveries earlier this year.