Australian university textbook rental firm Zookal promises that books will soon be delivered by drone.
Teaming up with fellow Sydney startup Flirtey, the companies hope to capitalize on loosening restrictions for the use of commercial drones by using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for e-commerce deliveries.
Flirtey plans to launch the commercial drone delivery of textbooks purchased from Zookal for Australian customers next year, before expanding to the U.S. in 2015. Flirtey says this marks the first use of fully automated commercial drones for package delivery in the world.
Zookal will use Flirtey to send parcels for free and claims deliveries can be made in as little as two or three minutes, in comparison to the days required for traditional shipping methods. Upon arrival at its delivery destination, a drone will hover and lower the parcel through a custom delivery mechanism that is attached to a retractable cord. Customers will be able to track their parcels through a smartphone application.
As the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is encouraging the adoption of drone technology, and due to the country's geography, startups in the region are uniquely placed to capitalize on the technology, according to Flirtey CEO Ahmed Haider.
Haider says that using drones will cut the company's delivery costs from $8.60AUD to 80 cents per delivery. The chief executive commented:
"As with most major innovations that start with a military background, such as the Internet, SMS, GPS and satellites, when applied to a community problem they have a significant and positive impact on society. Our goal is to do this with UAVs."
While Flirtey wants to market the service as a more cost-effective and environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional delivery methods, the firm will have to challenge the public perception of UAVs and the safety & privacy concerns the technology creates. To address these issues, Flirtey is currently collaborating with a non-profit research institute to draft a set of guidelines for the use of commercial drones.
Image credit: Screenshot
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com