Amazon drones: A flying robot may deliver your Christmas gifts in four or five years

This video, produced by Amazon, shows a prototype of Amazon's plan for using drones to deliver packages in as little as 30 minutes. (Disclosure: Amazon's founder and CEO, Jeffrey P. Bezos, is also the owner of The Washington Post.) (Amazon)

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos promised a surprise during his interview with Charlie Rose broadcast Sunday on CBS’s “60 Minutes.”

“We start with the interview and Bezos said, ‘You’ll never guess what it is. In fact. if you can guess what it is, then you’re very lucky and I will give you half my fortune and send you to Vegas with it,’ ” said Nathalie Sommer, associate producer at “60 Minutes,” during “60 Minutes Overtime.”

Bezos revealed that the  company is testing automated drones to deliver orders to customers. He cautioned that the system is years away and requires more work, but he offered a timeline. “Could it be, you know, four, five years? I think so,” he said.

“The hardest challenge of making this happen is going to be demonstrating to the standards of the FAA that this is a safe thing to do,” Bezos said on “60 Minutes Overtime.”

Bezos said Amazon thinks the drones — which it’s calling octocopters — can carry objects up to five pounds, which covers 86 percent of delivered items.

Rose called it perhaps Amazon’s “boldest venture ever.” But can the company pull it off? Bezos was confident, saying, “It will work, and it will happen, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

[Bezos owns The Washington Post.]

Matt McFarland is the editor of Innovations. He's always looking for the next big thing. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook.

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Matt McFarland · November 27, 2013