Amazon unveils delivery by drone: Prime Air. No, seriously

Summary:The retail giant is taking delivery to the next level by using unmanned drones. But don't hold your breath for the service to launch any time soon.

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Image: CBS "60 Minutes"

Not content with next-day delivery service through its Prime program, Amazon wants orders to land on people's front porches in as little as half an hour.

Just when you thought the technology industry couldn't get any stranger, the latest idea from the retail giant is to offer an audacious delivery-by-drone service.

In a Sunday evening "60 Minutes" program aired on CBS (ZDNet's parent company) Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos unveiled the new service, dubbed Prime Air, to CBS anchor Charlie Rose.

The company has been working on the "octocopter" project in a secret research and development lab at its Seattle, Wash.-based headquarters for months in efforts to ramp up its competition against its rivals. According to the program, the octocopter drones will pick up packages in small buckets at Amazon's fulfillment centers and fly directly to customers' nearby in as little as 30 minutes after they hit the "buy" button.

But the service won't launch overnight. In fact, it may take as long as four to five years for Prime Air drones to take to the skies, as the program is still subject to safety and regulatory rules by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.

Bezos also admitted that it wouldn't work for everything, but would be ideal for smaller items.

The CBS show offered an unprecedented inside look at Amazon's warehouses where deliveries are processed and delivered. It also explored Bezos' ideas, thoughts, and where the company he founded in 1994 is forging ahead.

Topics: Amazon

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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