This is how Christmas presents will be delivered in the future.
That’s the view of Halifax -based watchmaker Weird Ape which has carried out its first customer delivery using a flying drone.
Company founder Stefan Kozikowski, who piloted the watch-carrying drone for half a kilometre to a customer’s home in Keighley, believes drone deliveries are the future.
The flight using the £800 DJI Advanced 3 drone went without a hitch, with two watches delivered safely onto the customer’s drive.
Stefan said the drone delivery was a demonstration of what was possible.
“We managed to deliver the watches in just 45 minutes after ordering.
“We can notify the customer by text or email that they have a drone delivery approaching so they can lay out a landing marker in a safe place.
“This drone is capable of delivering up to two watches at once.
“To carry out the test, we had to get a Civil Aviation Authority license to fly the drone and get insurance.
“The drone can travel at 20mph in a straight line which means it can reach remote locations much quicker and cheaper than conventional methods.”`
The Civil Aviation Authority ‘Small Unmanned Vehicle’ licence cost £1,500 and involved Stefan taking a written test and a flying exam.
He described the tests as “over the top” and “quite complex”.
The ‘delivery system’ was developed in-house by the company’s accountant, an avid fisherman who suggested a simple design based on a bait dropper.
“The items are dropped automatically when the drone touches down,” says Stefan.
Stefan added: “Watches are small, light and high value making them ideal candidates for drone deliveries.
“One of the most challenging parts was building the payload delivery system. At first we were integrating a receiver and servos to open the hatch.
“This all needed additional power and added weight.
“Seeing us struggle with the design our accountant suggested we create a much simpler design based on a bait dropper.
“This clever design didn’t require any of the complicated communications equipment, saving cost and weight.”
Stefan says the flight proved the worth of drones as a delivery tool. However, current laws mean that drone pilots have to be able to see their craft, so they cannot be piloted remotely.
For the Keighley flight he and a colleague, who acted as a ‘spotter’, had to drive to within 500m of the customer’s house before the drone could be launched.
“A lot of steps have to be made before things happen. Nothing is going to happen without these baby steps which we are taking.”
“There needs to be a change in the law. And I don’t think there will be urban deliveries. I think drones are more suitable for rural locations.”