"World's first" drone delivery service
launches in Australia


News: a Sydney company has launched a book delivery service that employs flying robots instead of postmen, and declared that "commercial drones are going to become as ubiquitous as aeroplanes" (+ movie).

Flying drones to deliver text books

Sydney startup Flirtey has teamed up with text book rental service Zookal to use hexacopters - robots with six rotors - to deliver study materials. The service aims to reduce postal costs and avoid the problem of missed deliveries by tracking the location of the recipient's mobile phone.

"Flirtey is the world's first unmanned aerial vehicle delivery technology," says Flirtey co-founder Matthew Sweeney in a movie about the initiative (top). "We're taking technology that was previously only available to the military and universities, democratising it and commercialising it so that anybody can order any goods or services and have them flown straight to their smartphone."

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"Currently in Australia same-day delivery by post cost eight to 20 [Australian] dollars," he continues. "By Flirtey it will cost a fraction of that and the consumer won't have to cover it because it will be included in the marketing budget of the companies that we partner with."

Books are ordered using a smartphone app, then Zookal packages them before they're flown to the customer's phone rather than their address.

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"Commercial drones are going to become as ubiquitous as aeroplanes in the sky are right now," said Flirtey co-founder and Zookal CEO Ahmed Haider.

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Six battery-powered rotors control flight, which can continue even when one isn't working. "We've built the Flirtey as a hexacopter, so it can lose any one rotor and still fly, and can lose any one battery and still fly," said Sweeney.

Haider mentions another safety feature: "When the Flirtey arrives to its location it levitates above the location and lowers the parcel to the consumer. If there is anyone that pulls it a little too hard the parcel comes off, keeping the Flirtey safe and ready to go."

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Sweeney explains that the civil aviation authority in Australia was one of the first in the world to legalise commercial flights by unmanned aerial vehicles, adding that the USA isn't due to follow until 2015.

This gives the startup the opportunity to hone the technology over the next few years, ready to export worldwide.

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Drones are increasingly being used to carry out day-to-day tasks, including guiding people around complex urban environments.

  • disqus_F4c77JFNcK

    Absurd story. Pure fantasy at this point as safety and reliability issues will not allow this to get off the ground. And using these drones is no better than using standard out of the box toys to do the lifting and delivery. This is a joke.

  • Cris

    STOP! PLEASE STOP posting these retarded ideas on dezeen. Please! From sneakers with speakers to this stupidity! If you don’t have anything interesting to post, don’t do it. That’s what we really need now, to get killed by falling pizza boxes or broken drones. STOP POSTING EVERY STUPID PROJECT OR IDEA.

  • Makes me ashamed to be an Australian geek.

  • Bradley B.

    I think this is a fantastic idea that can easily become a reality soon! Congratulations gentlemen.

  • Luis Fraguada

    Pure vaporware for now. The range on these things is at best (with a lot of battery + book payload) 35 minutes. There are other drone formats that could carry a bigger payload longer, but they are not employing these. Nothing but pretty pictures!

  • James Barber

    Theres a problem. I’m going to steal the drone when it arrives.

  • greg

    It’s an idea. That’s where most good design starts.
    With technological development, this idea could be good infrastructure design. Think laterally, not just about what you see.

  • JeffK

    How refreshing to see an Australian company at the forefront of something truly innovative with a big vision. If the tech can work well enough there is no reason why this can’t work.

  • stayed in Newcastle for 4 year

    Don’t do it in a city like Sydney, do it in the countryside.

  • Nathaniel

    If I order something on my phone when I’m in my house, is it going to be dropped on my roof?

    • Darren

      Make sure you are not ordering a Nokia 3310, Nat.
      Your whole house will be a gone case.

  • tiw

    Clearly one of the “why didn’t I think of this” ideas! I can imagine them to be much quicker than bike couriers in dense cities, to deliver business mail.

  • girts

    In Latvia one man uses this technology to make nature photos and he says “I will never use this technology in places where are people”. While technology is technology, anything can happen.

  • Rae Claire

    Just awful. Maybe along designated “paths” in rural areas or something. We have more than enough types of pollution in urban areas already. In the U.S., gun sales would skyrocket (sorry) as citizens take aim (sorry) to defend their airspace.

  • Adam

    Just wait until you see drug dealers making suburban deliveries via Paypal and drones.

  • Ewan Morrison

    Regardless of the negative comments from some people, this is the future. I say invest in them rather than leave negative remarks.

  • linda

    This is intrusive to bystanders. I don’t want to take a walk in the park and hear drones everywhere. These things are noisy and this is just a horrible idea.

  • James

    I would hate to see a sky with hundreds of drones flying around with boxes! What would happen if one box fell, crashed into another drone, bird? What about weather conditions, etc? This is such a waste of energy and time.

  • Edo

    Despite of negativity in some of the posts below, it’s already reality. Amazon, Google, DHL and some other leading world market players are heavily investing, testing and putting commercial quadcopters to work very soon.