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Zookal will deliver textbooks using drones in Australia next year

<strong>Express delivery:</strong> Australian textbook rental service <a href='http://www.zookal.com/' target='_blank'>Zookal</a> make good on UAV's (unmanned aerial vehicles) promise to provide lightning-speed personal deliveries. French postal service La Poste claimed to be launching a newspaper delivery drone service in April -- <a href='http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/02/drone-mail-delivering-france_n_2332639.html' target='_blank'>only to reveal it as a hoax</a>. But Zookal looks to be the real deal, offering Sydney students the chance to have their textbooks dropped at any location. Express delivery: Australian textbook rental service Zookal make good on UAV's (unmanned aerial vehicles) promise to provide lightning-speed personal deliveries. French postal service La Poste claimed to be launching a newspaper delivery drone service in April -- only to reveal it as a hoax. But Zookal looks to be the real deal, offering Sydney students the chance to have their textbooks dropped at any location.
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10 friendly neighborhood drones
10 friendly neighborhood drones
10 friendly neighborhood drones
10 friendly neighborhood drones
10 friendly neighborhood drones
10 friendly neighborhood drones
10 friendly neighborhood drones
10 friendly neighborhood drones
10 friendly neighborhood drones
10 friendly neighborhood drones
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Textbook supplier Zookal will start to use unmanned drones in Australia next year
  • Smartphone users in Sydney can order books to be delivered directly to them
  • Plans to make service available in U.S.

(The Verge) -- Australian textbook rental startup Zookal will begin utilizing drones to make its deliveries in Australia next year, with ambitions of bringing the unique, unmanned delivery method to U.S. customers by 2015.

The company says this marks the first commercial use of fully automated drones worldwide. It will fulfill deliveries in Sydney using six drones to start, dropping off textbook purchases at an outdoor location of the customer's choosing. To wipe away any potential privacy or surveillance fears, the drones aren't equipped with cameras.

Instead, built-in anti-collision technology keeps them clear of trees, buildings, birds, and other potential obstacles.

CNN Explains: Drones

Read: Drones fight war on rhino poaching

...Australia is uniquely placed to create a new drone industry and shape the development of regulations in this space
Zookal CEO Ahmed Haider

Both the location of the user and the drone's GPS coordinates are transmitted via a smartphone app, and Zookal claims deliveries can be completed in as little as two to three minutes once a drone takes flight.

You can track the drone's progress from the app (which will only be available on Android at launch) and head outside once it's getting close. The drone never fully lowers itself to ground level, but rather hovers overhead and lowers its textbook delivery with the tap of a button on your smartphone.

Watch: Flirtey Zookal flies

"As one of the few countries in the world to allow commercial drone activities, Australia is uniquely placed to create a new drone industry and shape the development of regulations in this space," said Zookal CEO Ahmed Haider.

Flirtey, the company that's providing the drones for Zookal's ambitious plan, is in the process of seeking regulatory approval with Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).

A test flight is slated for November, and if all goes according to plan, proper commercial deliveries will begin in March. The FAA will need first need to outline a clear policy for commercial drone usage before such a system can make its way to the US, something it hopes to do in 2015.

© 2013 Vox Media Inc. All rights reserved

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