zookal

Zookal, Australia’s student textbook rental site, has announced a partnership with commercial drone service Flirtey to provide a unique parcel delivery solution to support its textbook dispatch.

The partnership marks the first use of fully automated commercial drones in the world.

The partnership will see Zookal using Flirtey to deliver parcels free of charge, directly to a customer’s location. Customers within the drone zone will receive a notification on their smartphone that will enable them to track the parcel via GPS. They will then be able to receive the parcel directly at any outdoor location. This delivery method will significantly reduce waiting times from two to three days to as little as two to three minutes.

The drones are able to fly themselves to a pre-determined destination. They also come equipped with collision-avoidance technology in order to avoid trouble with trees, towers, birds, and high winds. The drones are operated by baterries.

Earlier this month, the company raised a US$550,000 in funding, bringing its total investment to date to over US$1.98 million.

Ahmed Haider, CEO of Zookal, said the joint venture with Flirtey came out of projections the company made about the future cost of parcel delivery.

“Parcel delivery is an important part of any ecommerce business and it is a core part of ours. 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. ” – CEO Ahmed Haider

The drone delivery will be rolled out starting March 2014. Zookal plans to use Flirtey in its Asia-Pacific operations before rolling it out to the USA in 2015.

“We believe Flirtey will transform the skies like smartphones transformed our lives,” Haider said. “As one of the few countries in the world to allow commercial drone activities, Australia is uniquely placed to create a new drone industry and shape the development of regulations in this space.”

Read also: Zookal raises US$550K for student textbook rental portal, eyes SEA