Delivery Drones for Amazon packages Crazy Idea? Australia already Doing It
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 (Flirtey'ing?), 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?
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...
I've also read online that countries like South Africa use drones at concerts for beer delivery. Instead of waiting in that long concert line for a beer, they were being delivered to the smartphone and dropped via parachute!
So is Jeff Bezos' dream of using drones for commercial delivery realistic? Not only realistic, but from the looks of it, within our near future.
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