Amazon Prime Air: Retailer unveils drone delivery service

Firm says the unmanned ‘octocopters’ could be delivering packages within 30 minutes of ordering as early as 2015

In what looks like a service from the Back to the Future universe, Amazon has unveiled its newest innovation: home delivery by unmanned drones known as ‘octocopters’.

A video released by the company shows a small package being put together on an assembly line before being carried to a overgrown remote control helicopter, which picks it up and flies off to its final destination.

And before you think the video is a simple publicity stunt that won’t become reality for decade -  Amazon has said the service, known as Prime Air, could fill the skies by 2015.

“I know this looks like science fiction, but it's not,” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in an interview with CBS.

“One day, Prime Air vehicles will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today,” the company added on its website.

“From a technology point of view, we'll be ready to enter commercial operations as soon as the necessary regulations are in place. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is actively working on rules for unmanned aerial vehicles.”

Amazon hopes that through use of the drones, packages weighing up to 2.3 kg will be in the hands of customers within 30 minutes of them placing an order.

In the US, the FAA has approved the use of drones by police and government agencies and has already issued around 1,400 permits.

Now, by 2015 US airspace is expected to be opened up to all kinds of commercial drones, with Europe quickly following suit in 2016, when everything from books to pizza could be delivered by the aerial robots.