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The UAE Wants to Speed Up Government Service Delivery With Drones

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, February 25 2014

Screenshot of Netflix's (fake) "Drone2Home" program

Earlier this month Netflix released a short mock commercial poking fun at Amazon's plans to create a drone delivery service called Prime Air.

“We have literally spent days working out most of the bugs,” says the voiceover as a drone clutching the iconic red envelope chases down a woman. Although the Amazon plan was announced in December, Amazon says they need “some number of years” to work out the technology kinks and to pull strings at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to get them to lift restrictions on commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). You know who might beat them to the punch? The United Arab Emirates government.

Earlier this month the UAE announced a system to deliver government documents such as identity cards and other passports by drone within a year.

Sky News reports:

The battery-powered test drone is about 18 inches wide and the rotors are encased to protect damage, and emblazoned with the UAE flag.

Local engineer Abdulrahman Alserkal, who designed the project, confirmed eye-recognition and fingerprint technology would be used.

Mr al Gergawi said the aircraft would be tested for durability and efficiency in Dubai for six months, before being introduced across the UAE within a year.

UAE is also on schedule to beat aspiring drone delivery service Matternet, which sees drones as a solution to poor transportation infrastructure in developing countries.

Unlike Matternet and Amazon, the UAE is not trying to make their drone deliveries entirely automated. People will operate and monitor drones from afar.

"We want to reach to people before they reach us. We want to save time, to shorten distances, to increase effectiveness and to make services easier," Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, said at a pilot test of drone delivery.

Drones have been used by journalists covering protests in Thailand and there have been efforts to democratize access to drone technology, for example this open source “Build Your Own Disaster Relief Drone.”

Netflix's mock-vertisement:

Amazon's "Prime Air" dream:

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