Beer Delivery By Drone? A Reality, Until The FAA Shoots It Down
Who says Amazon is only good for putting other retailers out of business with its 1% margins: in the aftermath of Jeff Bezos' announcement that the online retailer is considering launching drone delivery, one company took the concept from merely the theoretical stage to practical implication. The company in question is a Minnesota Micro Brewery called Lakemaid Brewery and the product it had hoped to deliver by remote control airplane to ice fishermen is beer. However, before beer fans around the country rejoice at the prospect of having a buzzing airborne beer delivery, we have some sad news: less than a week after the company posted a promotional YouTube video showcasing the first test flights across mid-sized lakes, the Federal Aviation Administration called Lakemaid Beer to immediately pull the unmanned beer from the skies.
ABC explains why the FAA took the proposed novel form of delivery as an affront to more traditional forms of alocohol intoxication, and why the bartender lobby may or may not have been behind this move:
"As much as they thought it was a funny idea, it was a violation of all sorts of codes," Lakemaid Beer Company President Jack Supple told ABC News, adding he's determined to keep pushing to get his idea off the ground.
"I understand why they had to shut it down, but I would like to do it for our fishermen," said Supple, lamenting the missed opportunities that the coming Super Bowl weekend could have brought for the business. "The fishermen are going to sit there from Friday 5 p.m. all the way through Sunday. That's a long time to be out there on a frozen lake."
This is "barley news," FAA spokesman Les Door joked this morning to ABC News when asked to comment on why the FAA shut down Lakemaid's operation. "The media just hops on it. I hope things finally have come to a head."
Despite the jovial tone, the illegal use of drones for commercial purposes is a serious matter, Door said.
"The FAA's prime directive is safety and while we are evaluating a lot of different potential uses of unmanned aircraft as we're moving toward safely integrating them into the national airspace, commercial operations of unmanned aircraft is not allowed," Door said.
Here one wonders why Amazon which until recently was dazzling investors with one ridiculous idea after another, would get the FAA's blessing for drone delivery in far more congested and risky environments, if smaller companies, arguably those that can't afford to bribe the FAA, are denied. So does Lakemaid's CEO.
Supple concedes the FAA has its work cut out for it, as "there's going to be a million ideas and I don't want to get hit in the head with a pair of dress shoes ordered from Amazon."
But in contrast to Amazon's proposed drone package delivery operation announced late last year, Supple said Lakemaid's drones will face less obstacles -- namely of the skyscraper and billboard kind.
"Dense urban locations present a host of problems to drone delivery," Supple said in an earlier statement. But our tests are on vast, wide-open frozen lakes free of trees and power lines."
His drones would instead be able to "fly as the crow flies, straight to our target based on GPS coordinates. Fish houses are very uniform in height, so we can fly lower than FAA limits, too," he said.
Of course, there is Jeff Bezos, where the more ridiculous the idea, the higher the PE multiple, and then there is everyone else, even if "everyone else" would still have to figure out how drone deliveries avoid breaking the law by sending booze straight into the hands of a minor.Then again, in Obama's America where one controlled substance after another is being legalized, perhaps to make the pain more bearable, it is only a matter of time before toddlers are allowed to chug Vodka.