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Amazon plans doorstep delivery by drones

Washington, Dec 4 (IANS) If Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has his way, instead of bombs, unmanned drones may soon be delivering from books to medicines to essential supplies at one’s doorstep at the click of a button.

Bezos revealed the giant online store’s plans Sunday for a drone-based delivery service called Prime Air that would bring customers within a 10 mile radius, items weighing up to five pounds only a half-hour after they click the “buy” button.

“I know this looks like science fiction, it’s not,” he said on CBS News’ “60 Minutes”, adding that “It will work, and it will happen, and it’s gonna be a lot of fun.”

But “this is early, this is still years away,” Bezos said. His “optimistic” estimate was that Prime Air will be available to customers within four to five years after more safety testing and approvals from Federal Aviation Administration.

The agency is planning to have its new airspace rules for unmanned aircraft in place by 2015.

Individual items will be flown from one of the company’s 96 massive warehouses, also known as “fulfillment centers”. The craft are autonomous, Bezos said an Amazon employee would enter a delivery recipient’s location and the drone called “octocopters” would fly off to make the delivery.

He says they’ll initially carry items up to five pounds, which is roughly 86 percent of all deliveries Amazon makes.

“In urban areas, you could actually cover very significant portions of the population,” Bezos said. “It won’t work for everything – we’re not going to deliver kayaks or table saws this way. These are electric motors, so this is all electric. It’s very green. It’s better than driving trucks around.” The drones would be autonomous, flying to programmed GPS co-ordinates.

“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 neighbourhood,'” Bezos said adding, “That’s not good.”

Seattle based Amazon last month said it was teaming up with the US Postal Service to begin Sunday delivery.

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