Online retail giant Amazon is testing unmanned drones that could deliver products within 30 minutes of a customer placing an order.

Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos said the drones, called Octocopters, could be ready to use in five years’ time.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)  is yet to approve the use of the drones for civilian purposes.

Bezos told TV network CBS: “I know this looks like science fiction, but it’s not.

“We can do half-hour delivery and we can carry objects, we think, up to five pounds, which covers 86% of the items that we deliver.”

The service will be called Prime Air.

Amazon said: “From a technology point of view, we’ll be ready to enter commercial operations as soon as the necessary regulations are in place.”

Amazon said the FAA was “actively working on rules for unmanned aerial vehicles”, which it hopes will get the go-ahead as early as 2015.

“One day, Prime Air vehicles will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today,” Amazon said.

The FAA has approved the use of drones for police and government agencies, issuing about 1,400 permits over the past several years.

Civilian air space is expected to be opened up to more drones in the US by 2015 and in Europe by 2016.

Amazon's Prime Air