Wisconsin Beer Drones Grounded by FAA


Ra Boe \ Wikimedia

Lakemaid Beer, "the hottest beer on ice," arranged for beer-delivering octocopters to carry 12-packs over frosty lakes to thirsty ice fishers. But as soon as it learned of Lakemaid's plan, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded it.

Released about a week ago, the Minnesota-based company's beer commercial instantly went viral. Drones delivering Wisconsin-brewed beer rather than targeted killings? Consumers loved the idea.

But the FAA says it isn't ready for the technology. The Star Tribune explains:

The nation's stewards of the air are still studying how to safely bring drones into modern life, and until then, their commercial use isn't permitted.

Meanwhile, Lakemaid president Jack Supple broke his printer printing all the documents the agency sent him.

When Supple saw Amazon Prime Air commercials he had his doubts. But he believes Lakemaid is a little different. Supple wasn't planning on navigating drones through mazes of skyscrapers and stoplights. They would traverse open lakes. He explained to Star Tribune:

That would be a far better testing ground because they're vast and flat and people are in little fish houses out there.

Eager entrepreneurs have brainstormed a zillion uses for the new technology. FedEx has toyed around with replacing its delivery trucks with a drone fleet. Taco deliveries are anticipated in California.

Other countries have already legalized commercial drone use. South Africa companies have operated beer drones. China based company InCake started delivering cakes last July, and the Australian textbook delivery company Zookal has plans to utilize drones early this year.

In response to growing enthusiasm for commercial drones, the FAA released a road map to cautiously guide the country toward safe, reliable domestic drone use. Administrator Michael Huerta expects its integration plan will take five years. The FAA projects "7,500 unmanned aircraft in the skies within that period if regulations are in place." But the roll out is already months behind schedule.

Entrepreneurs like Jack Supple have to wait for the green light from the FAA whether or not they're sure their individual enterprise is safe.

Watch Lakemaid's commercial below: