The same technology employed by the Pentagon and CIA to deliver bombs to targets in the Middle East will soon be used to deliver purchases to Amazon.com customers once the Internet marketing giant gets clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration, company founder Jeff Bezos said in an interview aired Sunday evening on CBS's 60 Minutes. The company plans to use small, unmanned aircraft to deliver packages to customers as quickly as 30 minutes after the order is placed online. A video demonstrating a delivery by the remote controlled device, called the Octocopter, is featured in a page on the company's website announcing the development of the Prime Air Service.
The federal government does not allow use of unmanned aircraft for commercial use, pending the development of rules governing the same. Bezos said he expects the regulations to be in place by 2015 at which time Amazon will begin sending products to customers' homes and businesses within a 10-mile radius of each of the 100 distribution centers the company has throughout the country.
The demonstration video shows an item being sealed in an Amazon package and then being picked up by the unmanned vehicle as it comes off an assembly line. The vehicle is seen soaring though the air and landing on a walk in front of someone's front door and releasing the package before taking off again. A moment later someone comes out of the house, picks up the package, and goes back inside.
"It looks like science fiction, but it's real," the company declares in the Frequently Asked Questions portion of the page announcing Prime Air Service. And it's only the beginning if Amazon's vision of the future comes to pass.
"One day, Prime Air vehicles will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today," the company predicts. As for air safety, Amazon assures readers: "The FAA is actively working on rules and an approach for unmanned aerial vehicles that will prioritize public safety. Safety will be our top priority, and our vehicles will be built with multiple redundancies and designed to commercial aviation standards."