Drones to buzz over UAE with govt deliveries

Ambitious plans would see drones deliver ID cards, driving licenses and other items

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In a move to bolster its government services, the United Arab Emirates announced on Monday plans to use unmanned aerial drones to deliver official documents and packages to its citizens.

The drone project was unveiled by Mohammed al-Gergawi, a minister of cabinet affairs.

“The UAE will try to deliver its government services through drones. This is the first project of its kind in the world,” Gergawi said, according to Reuters news agency.

The battery-operated vehicle, about half a meter across, resembles a butterfly with a top compartment that can carry small parcels. Colored white and emblazoned with the UAE flag, the drone is propelled by four rotors, according to Reuters.

Services would initially include delivery of identity cards, driving licenses and other permits, the news agency reported.

The drone service could be introduced across the UAE within a year, Gergawi said, adding that the vehicles would be tested for durability and efficiency in Dubai for six months.

“Within a year from now we will understand the capabilities of the system and what sort of services, and how far we can deliver. Eventually a new product will be launched across all the country,” Gergawi said.

Fingerprint and eye-recognition security systems would be used to protect the drones and their cargo, local engineer Abdulrahman Alserkal, who designed the project, was quoted as saying by Reuters.

The drone service could meet obstacles, however, such as temperatures which often exceed 40 degrees Centigrade in summer and occasional heavy sandstorms in the country.

The project was reminiscent of Amazon.com Inc. chief executive Jeff Bezos’ plans announced last year, in which he announced proposals to deliver goods to millions of customers with a fleet of drones.

But safety and technical issues mean the plan is unlikely to become a reality in the United States this decade, experts in the industry say.

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