Have you ever thought “I wish I had a quicker way to get my favorite beer without leaving the house?” In Minnesota, a local brewing company decided to find a way to meet these needs. Minnesota-based brewing company Lakemaid developed a beer delivery system to help make its popular winter lager more accessible during the long winter months.
After viewing “60 Minutes” featuring Amazon.com’s same-day delivery system through use of drones, owners of Lakemaid Brewing Company decided to develop its own unmanned aerial delivery vehicle. The company sent out its first beer delivery of its popular winter lager to an ice fishing shack off of nearby Lake Millie Lacs. The delivery was a success.
Lakemaid posted video of its successful voyage on YouTube, showing a 12-pack of the company’s Lakemade Winter Lager make its way by drone to its delivery destination, the Bait & Tackle shop off Lake Millie Lacs. The video was met with divided response. Beer aficionados immediately asked when their local brewery could utilize such technology while many responded with criticism of the use of devices often used in military surveillance for something considered trivial.
For many the word “drone” automatically brings negative images from the use of these vehicles by the government for covert operations on both foreign and domestic lands. Drones are utilize as methods for combat strikes as well as search and rescue missions in military operations.
The Federal Aviation Administration was among the group of negative responses and for a valid reason, too. As the federal agency regulating and overseeing all manner of aviation in the nation, the FAA questioned the use of these drones by the brewing company.
Unfortunately the FAA, while not ruling use of drones for delivery of goods illegal, has various strict restrictions on the use of unmanned aerial devices for the purpose of delivery. For instance, drones are prohibited from flying over populated areas and are not permitted to fly over an elevation of 400 feet. These devices must weigh less than 55 pounds and may not be used for commercial purposes, which leaves the use of these vehicles for recreational purposes only.
Lakemade clearly was in violation of these restrictions and has since been served with a cease and desist order from the FAA citing violations of these restrictions. For the time being, this one delivery may end up being the one and only beer delivery by drone.
The FAA has stated that it will review its restrictions and potential revise the use of unarmed air delivery as early as 2015. However, a detailed and specialized training would be required for those interested in using drones for delivering purposes including obtaining and operator’s license. It is doubtful that drones will be used initially for delivery of items such as beer, but rather for larger commercial uses such as agriculture.
It may take some time, but perhaps someday drones will be delivering pizza and beer to a home near you. However for the time being it appears to be on hold. For now.