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Would You Order a Coffee Via Drone?

Tom's Guide / Anna Attkisson

It’s not a TacoCopter, but it’s almost as cool. The Uvionix Nsky aerial delivery service wants to bring you a latte for just $3. Of course, the company has that pesky FAA approval problem that every other drone delivery service has, but Uvionix hopes to be up and running by Q2 of 2017.

Hopefully, the Nsky drones won’t turn out to be as much of a hoax as the actual TacoCopter was. This UAV service seemingly seriously wants to let local shops deliver all sorts of small goods via drone. The company anticipates delivering soda, fast food, beer, coffee, personal care products, prescriptions and electronics. Goods will have to weigh less than 1.2 pounds and the service will theoretically have a range of six miles from participating stores.

Uvionix wants to give fleets of its drones to participating vendors. Store employees would load one up with smartphone-made orders and send out just like a delivery person, only this would be an autonomous drone. The copter would then land in your front yard and wait for you to retrieve your goods. The company encloses the propellers, and outfits each drone with its own parachute as a safety precaution.

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Uvionix has made no mention of object avoidance technology, per se. But it does mention that a Control Center will somehow monitor the whole process, including managing restricted air, obstacles and collision avoidance.

Customers will be offered two methods for landing. You can get a pre-printed polymer board to put on your yard. The Nsky will look for that and land on top of it. Or you can go the Advanced route, where you use the app to select a location in an aerial preview, which the company records as the spot to go to. A mysterious co-pilot will then manually take control when the drone is coming in for a final approach to check that the area is a suitable touchdown pad.

To date, Amazon has done the most to further the cause of aerial deliveries. It’s currently testing a 30-minute dispatch system via drone in Canada, the UK and the Netherlands. Meanwhile, the FAA in the U.S. is dragging its feet. However, one startup, called Flirtey, got federal approval to complete a home drop-off of emergency supplies to a house in Hawthorne, Nev. In that case, the first-aid was lowered to the front porch via rope.

NASA and the FAA are reportedly working on a UAV air traffic control system to keep the public and its properties safe. The FAA has also received recommendations on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, and is rumored to be readying rules for commercial implementation by sometime this summer. But, that has yet to be confirmed.

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