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With Prime Air, Amazon plans to deliver purchases via drones

By Andrea Chang

4:05 AM EST, December 2, 2013

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Delivery drones are on their way.

Amazon.com on Sunday introduced Prime Air, a futuristic delivery system that the company says will get packages into customers' hands in half an hour or less, delivered via unmanned aerial vehicles.

The online retail behemoth posted a video on its website that shows images of a recent Prime Air test flight.

In the 80-second clip, which you can watch below, a shopper buys an item on Amazon. The item is then placed into a plastic yellow Amazon container and picked up at the end of a conveyor belt by an Amazon drone, which takes off and soars over a grassy field before depositing the package with a thud outside the shopper's doorstep.

"One day, Prime Air vehicles will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today," the company said in a brief Q&A on its website. 

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Amazon said the company has been working on Prime Air in its next-generation research and development lab, but cautioned that it would be a while before customers could choose it as a delivery option.

"Putting Prime Air into commercial use will take some number of years as we advance the technology and wait for the necessary FAA rules and regulations," the company said.

Amazon added that it hoped the agency would put in place rules for unmanned aerial vehicles by 2015. "We will be ready at that time," it said.

Amazon founder and Chief Executive Jeff Bezos introduced the delivery-by-drone concept during a segment on CBS' "60 Minutes" on Sunday. He said Prime Air would be available for packages weighing 5 pounds or less.

Already known for free, two-day delivery via its Amazon Prime membership program, the company has lately been experimenting with same-day delivery; it has also expanded its grocery delivery offerings and, most recently, announced that it was teaming with the U.S. Postal Service to deliver Amazon packages on Sundays.

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