Buzz-killing FAA grounds beer drone in Wisconsin

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Besides cheese and the Green Bay Packers, once winter sets in, few things are more more popular than ice fishing and beer in Wisconsin.

And to capitalize on the latter, Lakemaid Beer, which is brewed in Stevens Point, thought it had the perfect way to deliver its beer to ice fishermen —a beer drone.

It works like this: You and your pals are on the middle of the lake, and are disappointed to discover you’re out of frosty suds. Instead of trekking all the way across the lake, getting into your vehicle and making a booze run, you simply call Lakemaid to place your order and give them your coordinates. Your beer is then dispatched via drone and delivered to your precise location on the lake.

It was all well and good until the FAA got wind of it and ordered them to shut it all down.

We were a little surprised at the FAA interest in this since we thought we were operating under the 400-foot limit, Supple says via email to NPR. He adds that the beer-makers figured a vast frozen lake was a lot safer place than [what] Amazon was showing on 60 Minutes.

Currently, the FAA doesn’t allow drones to be used for commercial deliveries. And that little demo Amazon did? It was filmed outside of the United States to get around any restrictions.

Supple says the FAA got in touch to let Lakemaid know its plan broke four — and possibly five — regulations, ranging from the operator’s rating to the use of airspace.

Of course, some folks have started a White House petition, titled “Force the FAA to issue an Airworthiness Certificate for Beer Drones,” because everything these days needs the White House’s involvement.

In reality, isn’t a beer drone a much better option than having drunk fishermen navigating icy terrain?


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