Are you ready to have your beer delivered by drone? Minnesota microbrewery Lakemaid Beer was very ready to make that dream a reality until they were unceremoniously shut down by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Less than a week after Lakemaid Beer’s YouTube ad went viral, the FAA pulled the plug on the idea. Lakemaid Beer Company President Jack Supple, however, said that he remains in love with the idea of drone delivery and still hopes to find a way to make it happen.
According to Supple, many ice fishermen are on the lakes from Friday evening to Sunday night every weekend of the winter. Supple’s plan was to have Lakemaid Beer begin its drone delivery program at Minnesota’s Lake Mille Lacs. Fishermen, particularly those who favor Northern Minnesota fishing lakes, are often far from the nearest liquor store. Rather than loading more beer in with their fishing gear, Lakemaid Beer wants to make it easier for their ice fishing fans.
Supple and colleagues came up with their beer delivery idea then rented a drone. They tested out their idea on Lake Waconia near Minneapolis. Of course, they recorded their test and stuck it up on their Facebook page. The video of their drone test quickly went viral. Lakemaid Beer lovers and ice fishermen of all kinds fell in love with the new potential delivery option. They were thrilled at the idea of having their beer delivered by drone.
Supple says that he is surprised that the FAA actually took an interest in his drone delivery testing. According to him, they were operating under their assigned 400 foot high limit. He reported, however, that Lakemaid Beer has received a letter claiming that they broke four different FAA regulations during their beer delivery drone test.
Supple admits that he had first laughed when he heard the news that Amazon was hoping to use drone delivery. He said that imagining drones flying through downtown Minneapolis seemed absurd to him.
Lakemaid Beer says that they believe that their testing is far less dangerous than the preview that they saw done by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos on 60 Minutes. Since frozen lakes are free of trees and all fish houses are relatively uniform in height, Supple believes that his delivery model will be far easier to achieve than Amazon’s aspirations.
However, Supple felt that the use of drones over vast, open frozen lakes was a completely different matter. While he has been shut down by the FAA, he is still preparing more drone ports at locations around the prime ice fishing areas.
While Lakemaid Beer has their official delivery service on pause at the moment, they say that they will continue to do testing of beer drone delivery options. This time, however, Supple says that they will go unrecorded and remain off Facebook.
The FAA is expected to be issuing new regulations regarding the use of commercial drones by 2015. Once all of the specifics have been addressed, it seems very likely that beer delivered by drone will be coming in the very near future.
By Nicci Mende