Imagine ordering a television or your groceries online and having them delivered to you by an unmanned aircraft. Even Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos admitted it sounds “like science fiction” when he announced that the company is experimenting with a project to do just that.
The delivery drones, which will be offered to customers in four or five years’ time, could transform Amazon’s already slick delivery network.
The company hopes to deploy an armada of flying “octocopters” carrying products weighing under five pounds to users – around 86pc of items they deliver – within 30 minutes of an order being placed.
A video posted on its website showed a prototype drone with eight small helicopter rotors and four tall legs. Powered by an electric motor, they will operate autonomously and use GPS to locate homes of customers within a 10-mile radius of Amazon distribution centres.
It is one of a handful of off-the-wall projects known, in Silicon Valley parlance, as “moonshot ideas”: examples of technological developments so ambitious that, before they appear, most people rule them out as impossible.
I suppose it could be a moonshot idea.
Personally though I took it to be a very good bit of PR in the American prime shopping season.