March 05, 2015      

Maybe the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was onto something when it effectively banned drone delivery in the United States. Maybe drone delivery isn’t quite ready for prime time.

As part of a promotion for its new Norlin shoe line, Crocs has a concept store in Tokyo where you select a pair of shoes on an iPad, and a green Crocs-branded drone delivers those shoes to you.

According to Engadget, “the custom-built drones have arms especially built for hooking the sneakers of your choosing, and this particular flyer can handle up to 600 grams — enough to handle one of eighty pairs on show several meters high.”

As multiple reports mention, the PR stunt failed on many attempted deliveries, and these are lightweight shoes we’re talking about here.

Tech in Asia posted a couple videos (watch below) that certainly made me rethink drone delivery. In the first video, the drone crashes into the audience. And in the second video, the drone “dies” on the shoes.

Certainly not a good look for drone-delivery advocates out there.


Engadget’s Mat Smith points out in this Vine below that it looked like the drone “was playing a crane catcher game in an arcade” as it took several unsuccessful stabs at hooking a pair of shoes.

The International Business Times (IBT) takes it one step further, saying “whilst most drones kept missing their targets and, in one case, flying off haphazardly into the crowd, it was – if nothing else – an adventurous shopping experience.”

I don’t know about you, but “adventurous” is not the term I’d like to describe my shopping experience. IBT reports that Morrie Fujita, VP and GM of Crocs Japan, says there were not any plans to use the drones in the long term. That’s probably a good thing.

Crocs did post this behind-the-scenes video below that shows the drone successfully picking up and delivering a pair of shoes, but apparently the drone had stage fright when the lights came on.