By Bob Hammell
Brewers in Lake Waconia, Minnesota set up an interesting way to get their beer to customers located in remote fishing cabins.
The result was possibly the worlds first alcohol delivery by drone. Thats right.
The brewers were able to load up a 12-pack as payload and send it airborne for it to autonomously fly to a set of geocoordinates, in this case a cabin on a frozen lake.
You can see the video below. While this was mainly a promotional stunt the FAA still intervened to prevent any further flying.
We’ve written about the commercialization of drone delivery before when Amazon recently revealed its plan to utilized them in the near future.
The brewery owners were contacted by the FAA who got wind of their operations and were told to cease all flying.
But this shouldn’t have been a surprise to the brewers, current FAA legislation prevents any drones from being used for commercial use or flying above an altitude of 400 feet. In this case delivering alcohol to customers definitely falls within that first category.
While they are stopped for now the brewer’s plan on continuing this pursuit come 2015 when new, more relaxed, regulation may allow plans like this to become reality.
As quad reviewers we were interested to see just what kind of quad they were using for delivery.
But as we should have guess, its not a quad at all! Its actually equipped with six arms and motors, making it more of a ‘multirotor’.
Typically this increase in motor count and thrust is needed when dealing with increased weight. Any drone that wants to carry more than a couple pounds of cargo will have to have more than four motors.
Often times multirotors are used for aerial photography because the high quality cameras that are used weigh a significant amount.
These drones are often equipped with larger batteries to drive the motors and provide a longer flight time, something that is critical when traveling over long distances.
In particular they used the DJI F550 which is very capable at carrying heavy payloads.
DJI has shown itself to be a quality manufacturer of drones in the past with its Phantom model which we’ve liked flying and reviewing.
It is enabled with an onboard GPS sensor which allows it to follow waypoint commands. Just feed it a set of coordinates and it will fly to that destination automatically, drop of its cargo, and fly back.
It also has an altimeter which can measure its distance from the ground and provides information needed for a soft landing.
The implications of this stunt is pretty telling of what possiblities await in the future of drones.
What help (besides beer) could be brought to people in remote locations? In disaster relief efforts could drones be sent out carrying essential survival supplies and deliver them right at a persons foot?
Could you order some food as you walk to work and have a drone follow your phone’s GPS coordinates for a delivery on the move?
I think these are all reasonable questions to ask, especially after seeing a cool video like this.