If P.T. Barnum were alive today, he would love UAVs. For a low price, and a few hours spent modifying a mass-market toy available at Amazon or Barnes & Noble, any small business can get guaranteed coverage on the local news. Australian firm Flirtey is the latest in this proud tradition: They've teamed up with Australian textbook firm Zookal to offer textbook delivery via drone within Australia. Helpfully, Zookal's CEO is also Flirtey's cofounder.
Starting in 2014, Flirtey will use UAVs to deliver textbooks to Australian customers (the practice is still illegal in the United States, where drone operators are forbidden from using their aircraft commercially). Ahmed Haider, Zookal's CEO, told TechCrunch Australia is uniquely situated to adopt UAV technology because of the country's diverse geography and relatively pro-UAV bureaucracy. Australian firefighters, for instance, are already using drones for logistical purposes.
There's only one challenge: Using UAVs to fly small objects like textbooks is kind of like throwing money into the air. Despite the popularity of publicity stunts such as the Tacocopter, small UAVs only have a battery life of up to 20 minutes and can only carry small amounts of cargo. While a few excited students may get their books delivered via drone, you can bet the majority of them will get their textbooks via that other marvel of modern technology: Cargo trucks.