You have surely seen the brief ad for Amazon Prime Air that features an octocopter delivering a package from Amazon directly to a customers doorstep. This is cool and you want to know what it would take to pull it off or maybe just understand the technology a little better. This is closer and cheaper than you might expect, just depending on what functionality you need. In fact, back in September I wrote a blog post and thought about the big picture things you would need for an entire functioning drone delivery. This post is more about just automating a remote control helicopter to drop a package off at your friends house who lives a few miles away.
So what exactly do you need to do if you want to fly a small package across your hood and drop it somewhere?
1) You need a helicopter or multicopter of some sort. Amazon is using an octocopter and my guess is that each one of these can easily fly 5 kilogram payloads. They can surely lift more than that, but flight time and maneuverability might suffer. If you could live with carrying an egg your aircraft requirements would be really simple. If you want to carry a heavier load, I would recommend the DJI S800.
2) You need an autonomous autopilot. There are two systems that are easy to use and work off the shelf 3drobotics ArduCopter and the DJI WKM and Naza V2.
3) You need a ground station that can receive and send telemetry information. With the DJI stuff, you can just use an iPad to upload your coordinates.
This is the basic setup for flying autonomous drone delivery. There are many issues to still be worked out, but this is closer than you think. The delays are not really technology related, they are more related to how the FAA is going to choose to deal with this. If you want an off the shelf option, try out the DJI Phantom Vision.