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Retail

Amazon to use minidrones for faster deliveries

The US retail giant Amazon has said it is planning to use minidrones to deliver small packages to customers within half an hour after online orders. What sounds futuristic may become reality in just four or five years.

In an interview with CBS television, Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos announced his company was aiming to take delivery services to the next level soon by employing small drones called "octocopters."

A demo video posted on the company's website gave viewers an idea about the tiny robotic devices Amazon would use for its very special "Prime Air" service.

It showed the prototype octocopters picking up packages from Amazon logistics centers and then whizzing through the air to drop ordered items to customers just half an hour after they made their purchases online.

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"I know this looks like fiction, but it's not," Bezos said. "We can carry objects up to five pounds (2.3 kilograms), which covers 80 percent of the items we deliver."

The minidrones could cover areas within a 10-mile (16-kilometer) range, thus covering a significant portion of customers in rural areas, Amazon announced. It added items would be dropped at the target locations thanks to GPS coordinates transmitted to the drones.

Bezos conceded that the project would require additional safety testing and US government approval, but was confident the service would become operational in four to five years' time.

hg/pfd (dpa, Reuters, AFP)

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