Drone delivery might be a pipe dream, but it's Amazon's pipe dream. Well, not any more: Chinese online shopping giant Alibaba has a drone delivery pilot programme, starting today.


From now until Friday, select members of the public in Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai will be able to order a particular brand of ginger tea (which apparently does wonders for menstrual cramps) from Alibaba, and have their order winged to them on a quadcopter in under an hour.

While this is technically now the first time that members of the public can buy stuff online, and have it delivered by drone, we are still a loooong way away from an actual useful Unmanned Delivery Solution. Using a drone to carry a single box of tea — probably at great expense — to a small number of people who don't have shotgun-wielding neighbours is a neat publicity stunt, but hardly a proof of concept. [Taobao via Tech in Asia]