How the FAA Stole Valentine’s Day

Amazon announced last year that it would soon be delivering packages via unmanned flying drones. A Michigan company just beat them to the punch, or it least it would have if not for those spoilsports at the Federal Aviation Administration.

Drone DeliveryFlowerDeliveryExpress.com, as you may have guessed, delivers flowers, and with the usual methods of trucks and delivery guys. Earlier this month, the suburban Detroit-based company decided to see what would happen if they used an unmanned mini-helicopter to transport some Valentine’s Day floral arrangements. For their experiment, they prepared several dozen rose bouquets. They were eager to find out how many of them their drone could deliver to a series of “customers” in a test group within a set period of time on Valentine’s Day.

On Saturday, February 8th, FDE performed a test flight and sent a drone with a bouquet to a test house in the Detroit area. Possibly the world’s first flower delivery via flying robot, the test was a success and the company posted a promotional video of the trip on YouTube.

Unfortunately, it was also illegal. Before the company could proceed any further, CEO Wesley Berry was contacted by a Grinchy government official with a heart that definitely didn’t grow three sizes that day. Berry was told to cancel delivery plans for Valentine’s Day.

Current FAA regulations don’t allow drones to perform commercial deliveries, although the organization is trying to hammer out guidelines that would allow them. They could be cleared for takeoff as early as 2015. Berry and his company are already preparing for when that day comes. “When the time is right, we’ll be ready for orders to be delivered, not by an address, but by GPS coordinates,” he said. “It’s exciting to plan the future of the business based on this emerging technology.”