Days after its Internet debut, the Lakemaid Beer Drone was shut down by the Federal Aviation Administration. The drone was being tested on lakes in Minnesota and Wisconsin and would have catered primarily to ice fisherman in need of a few brews. Whether it was a publicity stunt or the real deal is of little concern to the FAA, which grounded the unmanned vehicle after seeing a YouTube video of the drone in action.
Elizabeth Corey, a spokeswoman for the FAA, said the concerns about the Lakemaid Beer Drone were twofold. "One thing is that commercial use by unmanned aerial systems is prohibited at this point," she said.
Apparently Lakemaid was under the impression that they could operate the drone, so long as they were within the 400-foot limit.
Lakemaid's managing partner, Jack Supple, told NPR he was surprised with the FAA's interest in the beer drone, adding that Lakemaid "figured a vast frozen lake was a lot safer place than [what] Amazon was showing on 60 Minutes."
Supple was referring to Jeff Bezos' interview with 60 Minutes last December, during which he debuted a video of Amazon Prime Air drones, which would provide same-day delivery service. It was later revealed that the video was filmed outside of the United States, since the FAA doesn't allow for commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles.
The FAA's second worry is that commercially used drones run the risk of dropping things and hurting people if used improperly.
"We're also concerned about careless and reckless use of any aircraft," Corey said.A White House petition titled "Force the FAA to issue an Airworthiness Certificate for Beer Drones (BUAV's)" was created on January 30, just after Lakemaid's drone dreams were crushed. The petition currently has 1,240 of the 100,000 signatures it needs to get a response from the government.