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Falvey Pilots First-of-its-Kind Drone-Delivery Service

You may have heard that Google, Amazon and even Dominos have explored the possibility of using drones to reduce their delivery times from days to hours, or hours to minutes. Falvey Memorial Library is proud to make it official: on Thursday, April 2, Falvey will begin using quad-copters to deliver books to students in their residence halls.

The Library has partnered with California-based 3DR, “North America’s largest personal drone company,” to implement a service in which a student living on campus may request drone delivery of a library book directly to his/her room. The stated delivery time is 20 minutes, but testing in St. Monica Hall over spring break demonstrated that students can expect delivery within 10 minutes.


Saint Monica Hall resident Steve Halek received delivery of Katherine Ann Porter’s classic Ship of Fools in under ten minutes.

How could this happen?

University alumnus Thomas Mullen, ’11 COE, ’13 MS, became a research-and-development engineer for 3DR upon graduating from Villanova. Mullen explains, “We [3DR] had been competing with DJI for the Amazon Prime Air contract, and we won the bid in November. Then the FAA comes out with these new regulations in December and puts everything on hold.” New FAA regulations prohibit the use of drones “for payment or commercial purposes.”

Mullen continues, “That’s when I thought of the Library; it’s non-profit, so the FAA rules would allow it [drone book delivery]. I worked at Falvey as a student, and I thought this program could set a precedent for other colleges. I wrote up a proposal and showed it to my boss. She liked the idea of 3DR being the first to capture this new college-library market.”


See the new IRIS+ models zooming down the hall. No, really – zoom in! 😉

“Our new IRIS+ model marks the next generation of quad-rotor helicopters” Mullen exults. “Its arms and landing gear are made of sturdy carbon fiber, giving it remarkable strength. Its strong yet lightweight frame, combined with its four tiger motors, give the IRIS+ a 3 lb. payload capacity. That translates to one large library book or two medium-sized ones. Also, its navigation system (uBlox GPS with integrated magnetometer) easily handles autonomous book delivery within a college campus.”

Students are warned to watch overhead for the book delivery drones, particularly on windy days.

Students are warned to watch overhead for the book delivery drones, particularly on windy days or when anything by James Clavell is enroute.



Jesse Flavin, Access Services specialist at Falvey, speculates, “As other college libraries implement drone delivery, I expect inter-library drones will be the next step. Students’ E-ZBorrow and ILL requests will simply bypass Falvey and be delivered directly from the lending library to the students’ rooms, further reducing the time between request and delivery.”

To request drone delivery, students who live on campus may click the “Drone Delivery” button in Falvey’s catalog. 2015 - 04 Apr - drone book delivery 4As this screen shot shows, only circulating books are available through this service (Reference, Special Collections books, journals etc. must remain in the Library). Students who are not in their room when the drone arrives or who otherwise abuse this system will lose their drone-delivery privileges.

There will be no book-return service.

For additional information, please contact Falvey’s drone-delivery coordinator at

Gerald Dierkes is senior copyeditor for the Communication and Publications team, a service desk supervisor for Access Services, and a liaison to the Department of Theater.



  1. Comment by Bodo — April 2, 2015 @ 5:38 AM

    We in a way had a similar idea … 😀

  2. Comment by Gerald — April 2, 2015 @ 12:16 PM

    Dear Bodo,

    Thank you for your comment and for providing the link for your wonderful video.
    Your six-propeller drone is impressive, a more capable aircraft than our quad-copters. And you’ve developed a clever name: Library Air Transportation Express (aka LAT-EX).
    The best part, though, is seeing LAT-EX in action. Also, the item delivered—Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines with the inimitable Terry-Thomas and the unique Red Skelton—was ideal for your video. Congratulations on your achievement!

    I wonder: could drones for trans-Atlantic library delivery be next?

    Thanks again,

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Last Modified: April 1, 2015

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