Drone deliveries set to start in Dubai

While Amazon continues to look at the idea of using drones to deliver items to customers, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government is moving ahead with plans to use the flying machines to deliver official documents like driver’s licenses and ID cards to citizens of its seven emirates.

Following test flights in Dubai over the next six months, the service is expected to be rolled out across the UAE by February next year, Reuters reported Monday. The trial period is designed to see how the drones deal with the oppressive heat, which in the summer months exceeds 40c, as well as the sandstorms which sometimes blow in.

It’s not entirely clear how the drone will make deliveries to tenants of Dubai’s large number of high-rise apartment blocks, though it is of course possible security personnel at the foot of such buildings could take delivery of items and passuae drone them on afterward.

Project designer Abdulrahman Alserkal said the drones will incorporate fingerprint and eye-recognition security systems to help ensure deliveries arrive safely and intact. The battery-powered unmanned aircraft system has four rotors and is about half a meter across, with a bay located at the top of the quadcopter to hold the important cargo.

Commenting on the proposed service, the UAE’s minister of cabinet affairs, Mohammed al-Gergawi, described it as “the first project of its kind in the world.”

While many may see it as a publicity stunt from a nation which already boasts the world’s tallest building and biggest shopping mall, the drone-based system may be one way to efficiently deliver important documents direct to citizens in a nation where mail deliveries are made mainly to PO boxes, not to individual addresses.

Dash for drones

In the last couple of years, a slew of companies have been taking a close look at the possibility of using drones to deliver goods to customers.

Domino’s Pizza last year tested a service to enable the speedy delivery of its bread-and-cheese snack, while a company in Australia has also trialled a textbook delivery service for college students.

And e-commerce giant Amazon hit the headlines recently when it said it was hoping to use the flying machines to deliver packages to customers in the US living within 10 miles of its fulfillment centers.

Whether such drone-based services take off is for the most part in the hands of each countries’ aviation authorities, though the machine’s durability, reliability, and cost effectiveness will also be a key factor in their implementation.

[Image: Business Insider]

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