Dubai is to roll out the use of drones to deliver official documents within the next year.
This is according to governmet officials, who claim that the unmanned aircraft will form part of their plans to improve government services. The announcement came at the Virtual Future Exhibition Conference, where a prototype drone was showcased in front of the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum.
The service will be used to deliver documents such as passports and identity cards, and the system will be secured with fingerprint and retina identification to prevent the cargo getting picked up by unauthorised recipients. The drone will be battery-powered and is 18 inches wide. The rotors will be emblazoned with the flag of the UAE and are encased for protection.
Dubai is aiming to follow the lead of US online retailer Amazon, which unveiled a prototype delivery drone back in December. Despite critics believing the technology will be slow to get off the ground, officials are determined to see the plans reach fruition as soon as possible.
The ambitious project will not be without its pitfalls however, with the scheme potentially coming up against civilian air regulations. Not only that, but most drones do not have the level of control needed to be operated efficiently.
Additionally, the use of unmanned technology will face further challenges in the UAE, as aggressive sand storms and extremely high temperatures may prove to be a hindrance. Similarly, the Dubai principality will have to contend with a high density of population.
Cabinet affairs minister Mohammed al Gergawi commented: "This is the first project of its kind in the world. 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."
The project is expected to be trialled over the next six months, to test for durability and efficiency. Meanwhile, problems in the US have made experts believe that the idea of using drone technology will not become a reality this decade.