SYDNEY - Doubts have been raised over plans announced by
Australian start-up Flirtey to launch a commercial package delivery service
next year using "fully automated drones", or small unmanned aircraft.
One prospective customer, textbook rental company Zookal,
has already signed up for the service, claiming students would be able to order
books from Zookal via an Android smartphone app and have one of six Flirtey
drones deliver them to their door - or any open space - in Sydney.
The drone would fly at less than 122 metres, but hopefully
higher than buildings, trees and power lines - not to mention cars and
They would be equipped with laser range-finders and connect
to the GPS system on a customer's mobile phone to locate the drop-off point.
The drone would not land but hover and lower the parcel to the waiting customer.
However many problems lie ahead for Flirtey - among them
satisfying safety concerns (what happens, for instance, if a drone drops out of
the sky or accidentally drops its load on a crowd?).
Flirtey has not yet applied for the very necessary permission
from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, according to the Delimiter Web site,
which raised these and other issues following discussion with one of Flirtey's
"Delimiter recommends readers approach this story with
caution," summed up writer Renai Le May.