Skip the magic reindeer and deliver your holiday gifts via drone
No need to wait for Amazon. The technology to send your gift-wrapped packages skyward already exists.
Consider the aerial drone, a brilliant piece of engineering that in its short time available to consumers has provided stunning views of the world, new tools to help avert natural disasters and even inspiration to help build future habitats on Mars. But you know what would make a drone cooler? The ability to have it send your buddy a fine craft beer or your date tickets to the opera, and all with a few simple taps on your smartphone.
Sound like a crazy vision of the future? You'd be forgiven for thinking that. After all, Amazon's commercial drone service, the one that gave us our first glimpse of where Prime delivery is headed, is still a few years off. But here's the real crazy part: consumer drone delivery is real and available right now.
Flytrex, an Israeli maker of drone technology for the consumer market, has started shipping its Sky aerial delivery quadcopter. The drone looks like any other you've seen, but includes four hooks and a number of straps to attach small items underneath. Examples include drinks, t-shirts, food and other lightweight goods weighing up to 2 pounds.
So how exactly would you go about delivering a holiday gift like some high-tech superhero?
What's particularly innovative about the Sky is how it leverages the Internet to get from Point A to Point B. Unlike conventional drones, which communicate from a controller on the ground, the Sky uses the same network as your cell phone to cover a delivery radius of 11 miles. You simply fire up the app, choose your destination and watch as the Sky takes off and flies away on its own. The person expecting the drone will then receive a notification on their smartphone when it is near. If assistance with landing is required, they can take over the controls and gently guide it to a safe location.
FlyTrex CEO Yariv Bash is an alumnus of Tel Aviv University and an aeronautic engineer by trade. He was inspired to create the Sky after he co-founded SpaceIL, an Israeli team participating in Google’s Lunar XPRIZE space competition to send the first privately funded ship to the moon.
"We wanted to produce something different," Bash told drone podcaster Simon Newton. "We didn't want to produce another wireless selfie stick."
If you're tempted to pick up a Sky and start delivering some gifts, just remember to first review your local aviation regulations. The drone also does not feature any collision-avoidance systems or weather-proofing, so make sure any deliveries you do make are safe, dry and within the law.
"Each country has its own rules and regulations," added Bash. "And we expect people to follow those regulations."
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