October 22, 2013

Drone delivery service would really like you to consider paying for your next textbook


In a last-ditch attempt to compete with online piracy, a new textbook rental service in Australia is planning to roll out delivery drones bring textbooks to students in as little as 2-4 minutes. Due to Australia’s dismal internet infrastructure this may actually prove quicker than downloading the books illegally as pdfs. Flirtey, the start-up championing the plan along with textbook broker Zookal, aims to begin commercial deliveries in 2014 with the aim of bringing the service to the U.S. In 2015.

The drones will have sensors to avoid mid-air collisions with geese and GPS trackers, presumably so that you can watch your package bounce between depots in real time. Upon delivery the package will be lowered to the consumer rescue-helicopter-style.

I know what you’re thinking:

Although it sounds a lot like science fiction, so-called “friendly drones” are on track to dominate the global shipping and receiving sector—sort of like the owls in Harry Potter except, you know, soulless and made out of metal. While that may sound exciting to the more interminable optimist, our money is on them quickly becoming as mundane as Skype and iPads, if either of those were buzzing across the skyline 24/7.

If you don’t like the idea of tiny unmanned robots zipping around overhead you’re not alone—anti-drone movements are springing up across the globe, ranging from artistic statements such as this fashion line to redneck hilarity such as this man’s advocacy for shotgun-only drone hunting licenses. On a more normal note, legislation to regulate drone usage has been proposed or passed in dozens of cities and is likely to evolve almost as quickly as drone technology itself.



Amy Conchie is assistant to the publisher at Melville House.