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178 comments

Butterfingers (2)

Dutchmaan (442553) | about 9 months ago | (#45130137)

Unless you're poor at catching in which case, lawsuit.. and profit.

Re:Butterfingers (1)

Cryacin (657549) | about 9 months ago | (#45130149)

So computer science textbooks delivered: 0

Re:Butterfingers (1)

Z80a (971949) | about 9 months ago | (#45130151)

Or you can rent some quite heavy books and be exactly on the spot the books will fall.

Re:Butterfingers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45130421)

It will never get to you anyways. College campuses have a built in frisbee screen that prevents any drone from landing. And even if it does land, how is it going to take off again with hacky sacks caught in its rotors?

Re:Butterfingers (2)

RJFerret (1279530) | about 9 months ago | (#45130601)

Coed, "There I was giving this bloke a blowie out back when WHAM, I get knocked out by an economics text...what are they suggesting?"

TCP/IP over avian carrier? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45130157)

Delivering paper textbooks is probably cheaper than a month subscription to Telstra.

Thanks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45130163)

I'll take the drone, too.

Postie! (1)

Stolzy (2656399) | about 9 months ago | (#45130165)

Drone Posties, nice idea (since letterboxes rarely move).

Re:Postie! (2)

mjwx (966435) | about 9 months ago | (#45130181)

Drone Posties, nice idea (since letterboxes rarely move).

Look, they could launch my deliveries at my home with a medieval trebuchet and still manage to deliver them with less damage than the current postie.

Re: Postie! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45130219)

you must have a shit letterbox. I've worked as a postie and know 99% of damage happens trying to fit mail in shitty letterboxes

Re: Postie! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45130261)

Do you by any chance own a black-and-whit cat?

Re: Postie! (2)

mjr167 (2477430) | about 9 months ago | (#45130783)

Because clearly it is the letterboxes fault that the postman tried to fit a 20 inch package into a 10 inch box...

Re: Postie! (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 9 months ago | (#45130817)

you must have a shit letterbox. I've worked as a postie and know 99% of damage happens trying to fit mail in shitty letterboxes

So ... it *is* the postman's fault?

Re:Postie! (1)

sonamchauhan (587356) | about 9 months ago | (#45130251)

No help if you live in an apartment :D

I'm planning to deliver groceries by missile... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45130167)

It's a really good idea!

Better to use owls (1)

Alain Williams (2972) | about 9 months ago | (#45130189)

It worked well for Harry Potter.

Wait until someone (3, Interesting)

Chrisq (894406) | about 9 months ago | (#45130207)

Orders a book for delivery to the US embassy ... just imagine panic!

Re:Wait until someone (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 9 months ago | (#45130497)

easy enough to put "sensitive" destination on a blacklist (or greylist: requires human to call destination to confirm order).

Re:Wait until someone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45130809)

The embassy is in Canberra...

This is about Sydney.

Re:Wait until someone (3, Insightful)

SteveFoerster (136027) | about 9 months ago | (#45130869)

Pretend he said "consulate", and then laugh. It was a joke, not a geography lesson.

Brilliant proof of concept for other industries. (2)

ron_ivi (607351) | about 9 months ago | (#45130211)

As they perfect this technology, I imagine many other industries will be interested.

drug smuggling

deliveries of court orders

weapons etc

Re:Brilliant proof of concept for other industries (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 9 months ago | (#45130329)

No mobile phone or plate number to track deep into known high crime areas, just the hoodie copter flying out to your car with gang roundel.
The FSB one for the starving US ex-gov workers who got out with a database retirement package.
In Capitalist West Russian embassy drone is lucrative for you.
Better than been a tourist mistaken for Snowden by the US embassy drone.

Re:Brilliant proof of concept for other industries (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45130651)

I'm surprised RC's arent used more when distributing dope. Perfect for the job.

Re:Brilliant proof of concept for other industries (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 9 months ago | (#45130831)

Perfect for the job.

LOL!

The drug cartels aren't worried about you moving in on their turf anytime soon.

Re:Brilliant proof of concept for other industries (1)

Ogi_UnixNut (916982) | about 9 months ago | (#45130759)

What makes you think drug smugglers have not been doing this? Since the paparazzi autopilot came out in 03 (and got refined by 06), it has been perfectly possible to build a DIY drone good enough to move a few tens of kilo's across borders.

Considering the profit motive, and lucrative money for any nerds involved, it would not surprise me if they were one of the first non-military users of the tech.

Free Drone !!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45130213)

Come on now - who can't see the value in being able to 'catch' one of these drones ? The delivery system is attractive, valuable, and can be parted out easily enough. And you get to call the vendor back and say that you never received the books :-)

Re:Free Drone !!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45130643)

The delivery system is attractive, valuable, and can be parted out easily enough. And you get to call the vendor back and say that you never received the books :-)

Video feed back to home base, where it's recorded?

Fantasy: CASA won't approve (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45130225)

I work in commercial Australian aerospace, I do a lot of legal regulatory compliance and I'm a UAV freak. CASA won't give an AOC for this activity as it's inherently non-compliant. The regulations state the UAV should never be in a position that a failure (eg: engine/motor/lift) would cause injury or damage to property and this activity would need to fly over things. In addition to that, I know many of the CASA staff who are involved in AOCs, and they're quite conservative (no offence guys). They're all too worried about the part 61 changes in December which will shake up the whole industry (biggest change in decades) to take a risk on this. I actually spoke with some representatives a month or more ago when they briefed our company on the new regulatory changes and I specifically asked about the future of UAV regulations, they're aware of it's increasing prevalence but nothing will be changing under the new regime.

Re:Fantasy: CASA won't approve (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 9 months ago | (#45130515)

I can't say that I'd blame them in this case: At least in US universities, there are major textbook 'peaks' (and, at least for the fall term, they usually occur while the weather is still good enough for people to be outside, other terms possible, depending on climate and seasonal variation). A plan that involves zipping a bunch of well laden quadcopters across the quad during high use periods just seems to be asking for trouble without commensurate advantage.

(Extra credit for having a unit enter that neat failure mode where stability is lost, due to hardware fault or firmware fuckup; but at least some rotors remain powered as it whips off in some poorly chosen direction...)

Re:Fantasy: CASA won't approve (5, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 9 months ago | (#45130595)

well laden quadcopters

African or European quadcopters . . . ?

Re:Fantasy: CASA won't approve (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45130709)

well laden quadcopters

African or European quadcopters . . . ?

Huh? I... I don't know that.

Re:Fantasy: CASA won't approve (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45130801)

Are you ordering textbooks or coconuts?

Re:Fantasy: CASA won't approve (1)

craznar (710808) | about 9 months ago | (#45130617)

Does CASA actually look after low altitude private airspace ?

Re:Fantasy: CASA won't approve (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about 9 months ago | (#45130721)

i think as long as you're under 400 ft you're good

Re:Fantasy: CASA won't approve (1)

cavok (154569) | about 9 months ago | (#45130979)

Actually I think that would be possible to create dedicated airways for such flows. Highly stacked, computer controlled, separated and managed by local automated computer based traffic "lights".

Payload? (3, Insightful)

not_surt (1293182) | about 9 months ago | (#45130227)

The text books I remember were all freaking heavy and don't "quadracopters" (six-bladed quadracopters in this case by the looks of it) generally have a very limited payload?

Re:Payload? (3, Funny)

nospam007 (722110) | about 9 months ago | (#45130259)

"The text books I remember were all freaking heavy and don't "quadracopters" (six-bladed quadracopters in this case by the looks of it) generally have a very limited payload?"

They're electronic books on a small USB stick I guess.
But more seriously, this story misses a 'stupid' tag.

Re:Payload? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45130269)

They're printed textbooks up to two kilograms in total weight if you'd take the effort to click on the link and not just assume everyone else is a moron.

Re:Payload? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45130607)

If they're electronic, just download them.

Re:Payload? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 9 months ago | (#45130281)

Hexacopter.

They go up to octacopter for heavy lifting, like professional TV cameras that have been used to film some sporting events from above.

Re:Payload? (2)

jkflying (2190798) | about 9 months ago | (#45130667)

Having more blades isn't to help with heavier lifting (more smaller blades is actually less efficient than more bigger blades), it's to give some redundancy so that if one fails the whole machine is still capable of flying in a degraded fashion. Think RAID, but with an extra 2 dimensions.

You need a minimum of 4 blades for stability, having 6 means that any 1 can fail and having 8 means any 2 can fail.

Re:Payload? (1)

jkflying (2190798) | about 9 months ago | (#45130711)

more smaller blades is actually less efficient than more bigger blades

Gah. That doesn't make sense. Additional smaller blades is less efficient than fewer big blades. Big props are more efficient.

Re:Payload? (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about 9 months ago | (#45131065)

And yet, people who don't understand basic physics seem to think all these quad-/hex-/octo-copters should be scaled up.

Re:Payload? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 9 months ago | (#45130753)

It does give finer control though. Which is just what you want when you need to hold a heavy camera steady.

Re:Payload? (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about 9 months ago | (#45131077)

Actually, what gives finer control is a proper swashplate. All these multi-rotor aircraft pale in comparison to the performance and maneuverability of a traditional helicopter.

Re:Payload? (1)

FudRucker (866063) | about 9 months ago | (#45130453)

maybe they should build a drone clone of a scaled down Chinook CH47 maybe about the size of a breadbox

Re:Payload? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 9 months ago | (#45130551)

If you dislike tedious hand-assembly of models, you could always build a scaled-down Mi-26 clone just by starting with an ordinary small helicopter...

If only... (5, Insightful)

bikin (1113139) | about 9 months ago | (#45130231)

there were a method to codify books as electromagnetic signals, and a transport network to deliver such signals to devices capable of displaying the decodified content. Imagine the added benefit of not having to fly around 1 or 2 kilos of material, with all the energy savings that would imply. nahh, that's impossible

Re:If only... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45130271)

You clearly never done any business with Telstra.

Re:If only... (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 9 months ago | (#45131049)

Assuming these are rural areas with little-to-no internet, they could even use standard radio signals to transmit textbooks. There was a time when some people experimented with transmiitting programs over FM. Record the signal to a tape, put it in your commodore, and you had a working program. I'm sure the same could be done with books. They aren't that big. You could probably even have people dial into a dedicated computer for downloading books via a modem. The added benefit that you don't even need internet service, so there's no ongoing monthly fees.

Dangerous/ Forsee problems (2)

sonamchauhan (587356) | about 9 months ago | (#45130249)

When a car engine fails, the default behavior is to coast to a halt -- unless driving downhill! Even so, a car has emergency brakes, gear/engine braking, a human driver, etc.

This scheme has no human in control (its "autonomous"), an externally provided destination ("connected to GPS on the users' mobile phone."), and no protection from a flying plastic bag or sheet fouling multiple propellors, turning it into a heavy unguided missile dropping onto the street below.

To the founders -- densely populated cities are the wrong place for a drone. How about delivering books or medical supplies in the Australian outback? (with a petrol engined drone)

Re:Dangerous/ Forsee problems (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 9 months ago | (#45130527)

A human to deal with emergencies is possibly less reliable than a computer to deal with emergencies.

Of course the computer should be pretty reliable - yet humans also occasionally suffer from catastrophic failure, such as a heart attack or stroke.

A computer can reliably perform emergency routines, and won't panic like a human might do. Particularly when dealing with an inherently hard to control vehicle like an aircraft.

A computer needs to be properly programmed (that is at the moment still an issue: particularly sensing the environment is not exactly solved yet), a human needs to be properly trained.

A computer may not be able to deal with some very extreme and unexpected situations (a software issue that is certainly being worked on), a human may make basic mistakes when such a situation occurs.

Safety is an issue for these things - no idea how this can be solved reliably. Probably one will have to set up air-roads for a start, to prevent collisions. These routes can also run along areas where if the drone would fall out of the sky, not much can happen.

Re:Dangerous/ Forsee problems (1)

sonamchauhan (587356) | about 9 months ago | (#45130663)

A properly trained, licensed, operator is better than software. For instance, he can determine if the situation is unrecoverable, and decide its better to crash into a mustard field instead of a children's playground (both of which look identical to this drone's sensors sensors). Of course, any computer support that augments the pilot is something good, not bad.

Yes, air roads - in unpopulated areas - are probably a good idea for commercial drones.

Re:Dangerous/ Forsee problems (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 9 months ago | (#45130861)

I doubt a remote operator of a drone is better than software - if so, it's not for long, as development of these things is going faster and faster with the availability of more and more cheap, ready to go starter packages. Software can make faster decisions, and has basically the same info a human operator has on where to go: a map and a video feed, plus the various sensors that tell whether something is wrong. As such drones are mostly flying out of sight of the operator, this human operator can not look out of the window to verify whether a sensor is broken, or whether the rotor has really fallen off.

Re:Dangerous/ Forsee problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45130771)

I'm guessing these things are robust enough to carry a real reference book or 3 (350+ page hard bound heavy book.)

If high velocity heavy falling things are the only issue slowing it down from a safety perspective, an accelerometer/altimeter driven (hardwired circuit that detects low altitude + high speed and fails in the deploy state in the power failure situation) parachute trigger and drive cut out for "oops" situations should be able to reduce the risk of falling payload/delivery system causing impact damage.

Re:Dangerous/ Forsee problems (1)

jkflying (2190798) | about 9 months ago | (#45130865)

Some thoughts:
1) Electric motors are more reliable than petrol engines - less moving parts etc
2) There are spare props - these use 6, which means that 1 can completely fail and the UAV can still fly.
3) A plastic bag will pose no issues for these props - they will cut right through.
4) These will have auto-descent for when signal is lost, battery is low or whatever so that they don't just 'fall out of the sky'.

That said, GPS is horribly inaccurate with height, and I'd also be worried with things like clipping buildings and trees. What to speak of chopping somebody up with the before-mentioned powerful props.

What? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45130295)

This seems like a highly inefficient way. Why not just ... email a pdf of the text book?

Re:What? (1)

ketomax (2859503) | about 9 months ago | (#45130319)

The reason for using drones is to smite those who were not studious enough with the previous batch of books.

Re:What? (1)

ls671 (1122017) | about 9 months ago | (#45130491)

Yeah, maybe even: "delivering books" is just a cover job for these drones and in truth, they are up to something evil!

Re:What? (1)

sonamchauhan (587356) | about 9 months ago | (#45130687)

DRM concerns?

Maybe deliver the copy-protection USB dongle via helium balloon mini-airship? :D

Trees, Buildings (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45130297)

I'm standing under a tree. Please deliver

how sharp are the blades on that chopper? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45130299)

Will your books arrive with blood stains after the drone cuts through the crowds on its mission to find you?

Re: how sharp are the blades on that chopper? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45130951)

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/06/nyregion/remote-controlled-copter-fatally-strikes-pilot-at-park.html?_r=0

Enough to do that?

Because the cost of getting a text book... (1)

complete loony (663508) | about 9 months ago | (#45130307)

... is so cheap already?

Great Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45130315)

Huge potential for other stuff
A bit ahead of their time tho IMHO.

mod 0p (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45130331)

sounds like something from a fosters advert (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45130357)

good call

Competition! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45130363)

They are apparently competing with the U.S.A.'s NSA for the "what could possibly go wrong?" award.

Done before, sorry (1)

spiritplumber (1944222) | about 9 months ago | (#45130369)

I hate to say it to Zookal, but we've done this in the small Italian town of Verbania since 2010. There was even an article in the local newspaper, Eco Risveglio. Email me at spiritplumber +gmail if you want a copy of the article. They can also talk to Kite Winters in Melbourne if they want confirmation from a more local source.

Re:Done before, sorry (1)

sonamchauhan (587356) | about 9 months ago | (#45130693)

Is this discontinued? What were the problems faced?

Re:Done before, sorry (1)

Antonovich (1354565) | about 9 months ago | (#45130807)

You delivered books to Sydney university students from Italy? That's incredible!

Maths will kill you (1)

James Greenhalgh (3398315) | about 9 months ago | (#45130371)

When I first saw my calculus textbook, I thought to myself, "This is going to kill me". Someone will experience death or injury by textbook with this idea.

This makes perfect sense (4, Insightful)

Arancaytar (966377) | about 9 months ago | (#45130381)

Because if there is one thing the age of digital communication has brought us, it is the ability to carry paper through the air.

Admittedly this is pretty cool, but so are zeppelins. Doesn't make it useful.

Re:This makes perfect sense (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 9 months ago | (#45130539)

It'd be great to be able to sit in the park and order a drink or a slice of pizza from a nearby shop, to have it deliverd to where-ever you happen to sit in a matter of minutes.

Books are just one of the many things that can be delivered by these things, and are basically just being used as a proof of concept.

Re:This makes perfect sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45130593)

What wouldn't be neat is hundreds of these things flying around everywhere delivering goods. That would get annoying real quick.

Re:This makes perfect sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45130619)

I'd be pissed when it's delivered to the balcony above mine since consumer GPS isn't particularly accurate (especially for elevation data).

Re:This makes perfect sense (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 9 months ago | (#45131041)

That's what America needs. More reasons to sit still.

if i was going to that college (1)

FudRucker (866063) | about 9 months ago | (#45130425)

i would get a paintball gun and use those drones for target practice

Early 1900s vision of the future (1)

Reliable Windmill (2932227) | about 9 months ago | (#45130451)

It looks like something you would see in one of those ridiculous pictorials from the early 1900s, envisioning the future.

Lets Go Fly A Kite (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45130477)

Are the optics on the drones good enough to evade a kite string (I'll assume they've been tested against electrical wires)? What's going to stop the from flying through localized bad weather?

books not bombs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45130513)

Make literature not war.

Re:books not bombs (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about 9 months ago | (#45130791)

the pen is mightier than the sword

How long will I need to wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45130547)

How long will I need to wait until these things start delivering pizza?

Oh no they won't! (1)

sd4f (1891894) | about 9 months ago | (#45130557)

Our nanny state won't let this at all. I really doubt it's even legal at the moment, since there have been many laws governing UAV's already.

Surprise " BOOM " (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45130559)

It's surprising we haven't heard of an asassination done by a small rc plane/copter in the papers yet.

On the contrary (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 9 months ago | (#45130585)

Well, I wanted to post a snarky reply like "It's not at all surprising that you haven't heard of one yet." but the US has been using RC planes to "assassinate" targets in the middle east for quite some time. They just do it with small bombs instead of a bullet.

Re:On the contrary (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 9 months ago | (#45130923)

Shh. The US isn't allowed to perform assassinations. International law forbids it. They're surgical strikes against groups of combatants that just happen to include a specific figure of military or political significance.

Next wave of modern technology. (3, Funny)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 9 months ago | (#45130583)

Let us use the 3D printing technology to create papyrus rolls. And use an email to a post-office which will print it and deliver it to the customer's home.

Or we can speak into a smart phone, use an app to convert it to text, send it via SMS, the receiving app will use a synthesizer to read it out aloud. If the receiving phone has stored the profile of your voice, the receiver can actually hear the sender's voice, on a phone, no less! Oh, wait, some already did this. It is called What's App.

Fishing net with extension, capture, eBay, profit (2)

ad454 (325846) | about 9 months ago | (#45130629)

What is to prevent some enterprising individuals from capturing a number of these, and selling them on eBay? Reminds me of Pokemon, "gotta catch them all".

Each drone would be likely worth hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars, and would be a tempting target for thieves. Even the stripped down electronics are worth it, and one can easily remove any batteries/fuel, or toss them into a metallic mesh box, to shut down or block any tracking signals, before the tracking units are removed in a distant location.

Military and spy drones always operate at great heights, except for takeoffs and landings at secure locations. In comparison, these delivery drones are required to fly quite low, or even land, in insecure areas, when dropping off packages, in order to avoid injuring the recipients and by-standards. At this point could be easily captured by people on the ground the long nets.

The only way to avoid this would be to have people following these delivery drones, at which point it becomes easier and cheaper just to let these people simply hand-deliver these packages without any drones.

That has to be the dumbest idea I've heard in (2)

mark_reh (2015546) | about 9 months ago | (#45130695)

months, and I live in the US, the world wide capitol of dumb ideas.

1) it requires everyone who orders a book to submit to gps tracking
2) it is for delivering paper books- do people still use those?
3) the inefficiency is mind-boggling.
4) it is rife with safety issues

I could go on but you get the idea...

Re: That has to be the dumbest idea I've heard in (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45130991)

It does seem like a gimmick, though on your point 1. , normal delivery to an address is equivalent with respect to privacy.

Let's legitimize the scam industry even more! (1)

P-niiice (1703362) | about 9 months ago | (#45130701)

All books should be pdf's now anyway. This just perpetuates the enormous scam that is the textbook industry. For the prices we are asked to pay, you'd think the books are made of powdered unicorn horn and printed with the blood of wood nymphs. I torrent textbooks for my son and his girlfriend whenever possible. You can call it a 'protest' but it's really my refusal to take part in the scam.

Hedwig delivers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45130719)

I am waiting for the white ornithopter version. Then I get my notes delivered by an Owl.

It's stupid (2)

koan (80826) | about 9 months ago | (#45130777)

It's dangerous, it's expensive, it's impractical, it's technically flawed, it isn't "a better way" it just has a smidge of entertainment value which fades immediately.

It's stupid.

Re:It's stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45130827)

It's dangerous, it's expensive, it's impractical, it's technically flawed, it isn't "a better way" it just has a smidge of entertainment value which fades immediately.

It's stupid.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Let's do it!!

Owls (1)

SigmaTao (629358) | about 9 months ago | (#45130793)

Sure they can come up with a way for them to be called Owls :-)

Oh The Humanity!!!!!! (2)

tgeek (941867) | about 9 months ago | (#45130819)

" . . . as God is my witness, i thought textbooks could fly . . . "

Sheila ... I just (4, Funny)

Chrisq (894406) | about 9 months ago | (#45130857)

"Sheila ... I just shot myself an Enterprise Architecture manual",
"What 'ya want that for Bob?"
"Dunno Sheila but the fun's in the huntin'!"
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