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Delivery Drones for Amazon packages Crazy Idea? Australia already Doing It

Updated on June 19, 2017

When I first heard about Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' Idea to use robotic drones to deliver packages (a project dubbed "Prime Air") I thought that he had been sitting on his fortune a little too long, and perhaps his imagination had gotten the best of him. Something like the king with the invisible robe...

How could that possibly work? I wondered. What about legal issues? What if a package dropped on someone's head? What if one of these lands to close to a kid, what damage would a propeller do? Then there's the crime factor. So your going to fly shiny, new, electronic toys in unmanned aircraft?.... "hey Bubba, watch this, I'm gonna make it Rain..." The cost factor alone won't make it feasible.

"Impossible" I smirked. Or is it? I just found out Australia and China are already planning drone fleets of their own, and, in fact, Australia is already using them...

Zookal, an Australian online textbook rental company, has already released a fleet of these drones, called "Flirtey", and delivery will start as soon as Next Month! (March 2014). These drones will deliver the goods to the buyer by using the Flirtey Android App. (which is linked to a smartphone gps location) within minutes, saving the buyer days of wait time, and money. Delivery will cost a fraction of what Same or Next day delivery is in Australia.

"Safety is our top priority" says Flirtey cofounder Matt Sweeney. "We've built the Flirtey as a hexacopter, so it can lose any one rotor and still fly, it can lose any one battery and still fly".

The drones also come with built in "Collision Avoidance Technology" , which will help the drone avoid birds, towers, wind, etc." says Zookal Cofounder Ahmed Haider.

So what's the hold up for the United States? Well, for starters, the Australian Aviation authority legalized commercial flights of umanned aircraft years ago, and the FAA is not scheduled to approve UAV's (Unmanned Aircraft vehicles) until sometime in 2015.

The Australian authorities need to give final approval for Zookal's plans, but for now they are allowed to fly the drones within 400ft of the ground, making it possible for the drones to start operation next month.

Australia isn't the only country flirting with Commercial Drone use. China's largest parcel delivery company, ShunFeng Express started testing commercial drones last year and have begun testing in remote locations in Southern China.

Drone operators strictly need permission from China's civil aviation regulator, and these drones are said to be limited to just over 300ft.

Do you think Unmanned Drones as a Commercial Delivery System will work?

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Amazon not the only company in the Unites States that aspires to use commercial drones. The Lakemaid beer company in Minnesota had been using drones to deliver beer to ice fisherman, that is, until the FAA saw the videos posted online and halted the operation.

The owners of the small beer company believed that because they were not charging for the delivery, 'technically' , it wasn't a commercial flight. But seriously, we're talking about a frozen lake. If anything, there increasing safety for the fisherman as they do not have to traverse across the lake for another beer run...

Countries like South Africa use drones at concerts for beer delivery! Instead of concert goers having to wait in that long concert line for a beer, they are being delivered to the buyers smartphone and dropped via parachute!

So to answer the question "Is Jeff Bezos' dream of using drones for commercial delivery realistic?"

Not only realistic, but from the looks of it, certainly within our near future.


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    • howlermunkey profile image

      Jeff Boettner 3 years ago from Tampa, FL

      @Mel , time will tell! I agree with Andrew, whats gonna keep these drones from getting hijacked or used for target practice (winner gets whatever drops from the sky). Don't count the postal service out just quite yet! thanks for stopping by!

      @Andrew, excellent point! Supposedly the drones are guided by a gps signal from the phone or device that ordered the package, but what if one gets shot down? 50 shades of Gray ey? Yup, as good as gone :) Thanks for stopping by!

    • profile image

      Andrew L. 3 years ago

      I wonder what would keep crooks from intercepting these drones and steal customer products. I hope whatever companies that ultimately end up using this technology take that into consideration. It would be pretty easy for someone to net one down too the ground and run away with my latest copy of '50 Shades of Gray.'

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 3 years ago from San Diego California

      Since I work for the postal service this post is definitely disturbing to me, because I too was questioning Bezos' sanity with the drone proposition. Looks like your friendly neighborhood letter carrier's days are numbered. Great hub!

    • howlermunkey profile image

      Jeff Boettner 3 years ago from Tampa, FL

      Hi jess,

      great point! I also wonder about one of those flying into the face of a curious child as its landing....or....the fact that those things would make for great target practice, especially when a shiny new tablet may fall from the sky..... Time will tell I guess.

    • profile image

      jess 3 years ago

      What if someone tried to steal the package?

    • howlermunkey profile image

      Jeff Boettner 4 years ago from Tampa, FL

      Hi AliciaC

      Kind of Scary isn't it? I see those blades and I imagine some excited little kid running out onto the front lawn....thinking they should go with a more 'avatar' design, where there were rings around the propellors...Crazy though right? I thought Jeff Bezos was most visionaries he's just ahead of the curve (and like always Im a day Remember those shoes that turned into skates? yeah, thought of that, like 2 years too late haha. Thanks for stopping by!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is very interesting, howlermunkey! I had no idea that the use of drones to deliver products was going to start so soon. I'm eager to see what the system is like when it begins, especially with respect to safety and efficiency.