It may be little more than 100 years ago that the Wright brothers took to the skies as they pioneered the world’s first aeroplane, but now the race is on to conquer the drone market.
In recent months it’s been claimed that pizzas, shopping, government documents and practically anything else you can think of will be delivered by drones. We soon won’t be able to move for them.
Facebook is the most recently reported company seemingly entering the drone market, as its rumoured purchase of manufacturer Titan Aerospace looks more realistic.
There’s no doubting the potential that drones could offer for delivery services and creative marketing departments in the future, but at present there are a lot of crucial problems that need to be solved before they can take off commercially.
Everything from ensuring the product is delivered to the right person, avoiding interception en-route and navigating adverse weather conditions are some of the hurdles that need to be climbed before drone delivery is a realistic possibility.
We’ve looked at some of the most ‘creative’ claims, or stunts, when it comes to companies utilising drones.
Ice fishers in Minnesota, US, were left disappointed when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded a local brewery’s beer delivering drone as it was outside the rules. Flying drones above 400 feet is not permitted in the country and commercial organisations are not allowed to use them either. The thirsty fishermen will have to return to shore for ice cold beers until the FAA announces legislation in 2015.
The ‘DomiCopter’, by pizza giants Domino’s, flies over UK fields and rivers directed by a member of staff to deliver not one but two pizzas to a customer (or a lucky passerby) who happens to be outside waiting for the drone to arrive.
In a move that can’t go wrong at all, the United Arab Emirates is set to launch a drone service that delivers government documents, packages and licences to officials. The unmanned aerial vehicles will be equipped with fingerprint and eye-recognition technology to try and prevent theft. The scheme is set to undergo a six month trial period in Dubai and then roll out to other parts of the country if the nation’s secrets haven’t been disclosed.
The most high profile of the drone testing/stunts was by online shopping company Amazon who ambitiously stated customers could receive products 30 minutes after ordering them. Unlike the Minnesota brewery the company tested its drones outside of the US to get around the laws.
It technically isn’t a company trying to make money from drones, but one ambitious group, The Falcon Project, are trying to launch a quiet, remote-controlled airship to find the large ape which has reportedly been spotted in the US. It sees the drone approach as being one of the best ways to hunt for the legendary creature over large areas.
In many ways the video streaming company have hit the nail on the head when it comes to using drones. In their parody advert, which mocks many of the above, the company say that its ‘Drone-to-home’ project will deliver your disc to you within seconds of it being ordered.
– It might not be all bad for the thirsty ice fishers as a judge in the US has ruled that commercially using drones is now legal. The ruling has effectively made the FAA’s current ban on drone use for commercial purposes not stand any longer. But if the FAA decides to appeal then the case could go to US Court of Appeals in Washington.
Image of ‘bigfoot’ drone courtesy of The Falcon Project.