Watch drones deliver textbooks in video demo by Zookal

Textbook rental company to announce partnerships in months

A commercial drone under trial by Australian startups Flirtey and Zookal could be used for textbook delivery. Credit: Zookal

A commercial drone under trial by Australian startups Flirtey and Zookal could be used for textbook delivery. Credit: Zookal

Receiving textbooks by drone delivery is moving closer to reality as testing of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) continues at Zookal.

Zookal, a textbook rental company from Sydney, announced back in October 2013 a partnership with drones startup Flirtey to use drones to deliver parcels. At the time, the company said it might commence drone deliveries as soon as March 2014.

That date came and went, but now, one year later, Zookal has released a video (below) that gives a glimpse into ongoing testing of the planned delivery service.

The last year and a half has been spent testing and refining the drone delivery system, Zookal co-founder and CFO Jon Tse told Computerworld Australia.

“Since we announced, we have done over 100 successful test flights in Sydney and we have developed new technology to solve some of the technical hurdles in making this a safe option as a delivery service around the world,” Tse said.

“As such, we have expanded our research and development to Nevada, which is one of just six FAA approved drone test sites in the US. We are one of only a few companies to achieve this and we were able to do this by partnering with the University of Nevada Reno, which is leading the world in drone development.”

Zookal plans to announce commercial partnerships in the next few months, said Tse, adding that the company has expanded the scope of the service beyond textbooks.

“For now, there is still testing happening at campuses around Australia and New Zealand in a controlled environment and we will be expanding to geographies where we can move quickly having already made some very high profile deliveries across the world.

“Beyond textbooks, Flirtey is currently signing up beachhead clients in New Zealand, which has more liberal regulations, and they are planning to launch commercial trials this year.”

Zookal could have some big competition in Amazon, which is also exploring drones for parcel delivery.

Regulatory obstacles remain for all companies pursuing drone deliveries, as many countries have regulations against using UAVs for commercial purposes.

Adam Bender covers telco and enterprise tech issues for Computerworld and is the author of dystopian sci-fi novels We, The Watched and Divided We Fall. Follow him on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

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Tags drone deliveryFlirteyZookalparcel deliveryunmanned aerial vehiclesdronesUAVspackage deliverylogisticstextbook rentalparcels

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