Textbook rental service Zookal has embarked on a joint venture with University of Sydney engineers to deliver parcels via robotic, flying drones.
The new company, Flirtey, is currently seeking regulatory approval from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority with a view to piloting the new delivery service at the University of Sydney next month.
Flirtey was co-founded by Zookal CEO Ahmed Haider and Matthew Sweeny of software company Vimbra.
A company spokesperson said Flirtey drone delivery would cost businesses $2.99 per delivery, compared to $29.95 for same-day postal delivery in Australia.
Flirtey announced that other ecommerce businesses besides Zookal had agreed to use its delivery service, but none were named.
The drones operate on rechargeable lithium polymer batteries, can carry parcels of up to 2kg, and have a range of 3km. They use GPS to locate customers, and may be tracked via smartphone in real-time.
Zookal plans to deploy an initial fleet of 6 Flirtey drones in Australia from March, and launch the service in the US in 2015. Zookal is pursuing Series B capital raising in the US this week.
“Parcel delivery is an important part of any ecommerce business and it is a core part of ours,” Haider said. “We recognised that as the business grew, the current options would be unsustainable from a cost and performance perspective.
“This joint venture with Flirtey gives us an opportunity to provide a significantly faster and more efficient delivery of goods while reducing our ecological footprint and costs.
“We expect the use of drones will cut our delivery costs from $8.60 to 80c per delivery, and because they are battery powered, the environmental impact is minimal.”