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If you’ve ever been out ice fishing on a cold winter’s day in Minnesota, you know that swinging by a convenience store to pick up beer is, well, not so convenient. Lakemaid, a small Wisconsin-based brewery found a solution for that: a remote controlled drone that could touch down with a twelve-pack. That is, until the government stepped in.
Less than a week after Lakemaid posted a YouTube video showing the beer delivery drone in action, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) forced the company to pull the unmanned drones from the air. According to FAA rules, drones cannot be employed for commercial purposes, no matter what brew the ice fishers are craving.
Drones’ commercial usage has recently garnered press with companies such as Amazon working on delivery systems with a sci-fi feel. With companies actually employing drones as a means of delivery, the FAA has fallen behind the curve of innovation, and has been forced to start revising their rules for the airspace.
Fans of Lakemaid, however, are more concerned with their beer’s safe delivery than the FAA’s uneasiness surrounding commercial drones. Backlash from the FAA’s decision has ignited a firestorm of discussion on social media as well as broad mainstream coverage of the issue.
Supporters of Lakemaid have even been inspired to begin a petition on Whitehouse.gov. “The FAA has recently revoked authorization for a struggling small business to deliver its product via Unmanned Aerial Vehicle,” the petition reads. “The FAA has no standing to restrict the delivery of products by small businesses and choke economic growth.”