Amazon.com Chief Executive Jeff Bezos said the world’s largest e-commerce company is testing drones to deliver goods, as it works to improve efficiency and speed in getting products to consumers.
Bezos unveiled the plan on CBS’s “60 Minutes” news program, showing interviewer Charlie Rose the flying machines that can be used as delivery vehicles. The CEO said the gadgets, known as octocopters, can carry as much as five pounds within a 10-mile radius of an Amazon fulfillment center. Amazon may start using the drones, which can deliver packages within 30 minutes, in four to five years pending Federal Aviation Administration approval, Bezos said.
“It will work, and it will happen, and it’s gonna be a lot of fun,” he said in the “60 Minutes” interview.
Amazon has been ramping up ways to get products to consumers more quickly, as it seeks to keep shoppers coming back to buy from its Web store instead of going to brick- and-mortar retailers. Some of Amazon’s most lucrative customers are members of its $79-a-year Prime program, which promises fast delivery.
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To cater to these customers, Amazon last month said it was teaming up with the U.S. Postal Service to begin Sunday delivery. The company invests heavily in distribution and delivery, which made up the largest portion of the Amazon’s expenses in the third quarter. Investors have endorsed the spending on capacity — the costs increased 35 percent to $2.03 billion — pushing up the company’s shares 57 percent so far this year even as it posts losses.
Bezos showed the drones as growth of e-commerce sales is outstripping total retail sales. On Black Friday, e-commerce spending increased 15 percent to a record $1.20 billion as more consumers opted to shop from their couches rather than battle long lines at stores, according to comScore Inc. Amazon ranked as the most visited online retail store, said comScore.