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5 attempts of drone food delivery

Dear friends,

Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

Enjoy!

Food delivery business can be very profitable, but not necessarily fun. Customer orders, meal gets prepared, courier guy fetches it, delivers it to your doorstep and walks away, tens of times a day (just think of Fry and Futurama).

Futurama style food delivery

Futurama style food delivery

It became so commonplace and glamorous almost as a public transport ride.  But, entrepreneurs keep on trying to reinvent the whole thing, and to bring something interesting in the mix. That is where drones kick in. Several attempts have been made so far, to deliver food using a UAV as a delivery platform. Some of them have been fake, some genuine, but all of them were cool enough to hit the headlines, and proved to be excellent marketing tool.

So, let’s see what airborne food delivery attempts we have so far:

1. Tacocopter

One of the first to play with the notion of aerial food delivery, was Tacocopter. Tacocopter idea is built around some of the most prominent touchstones of modern America: fast food, smartphone apps, robots and laziness. You use a smartphone app to order a taco, which is then delivered to you by a drone. There is ofcourse, a small issue of FAA prohibiting commercial use of UAV. Also, usual problems of drone delivery such as navigation, sense&avoid etc. are persistent, so no taco raining from the sky any time soon in US of A. Maybe in Mexico though…

2. Burrito Bomber

Early adopter of the Tacocopter idea was Darwin Aerospace with their Burrito Bomber project. They used a fixed wing UAV, a very unorthodox choice, and instead of handing the food to you it was parachuting it. The whole process worked something like this:

  1. You connect to the Burrito Bomber web-app and order a burrito. Your smartphone sends your current location to the server, which generates a waypoint file compatible with the drone’s autopilot.
  2. Waypoint file is then uploaded to the drone and burrito is loaded to custom made Burrito Delivery Tube
  3. The drone flies to your location and releases the Burrito Delivery Tube. The burrito parachutes down to you and the drone flies itself home

As you can guess, the concept of food bombing didn’t appeal to FAA, so no flying  carne asada either.

3. Sushi Flying Waiter

It is not actually called Sushi Flying Waiter but iTray. London restaurant Yo!Sushi introduced the iTray during summer 2013. In essence, a Parrot AR Drone 2.0 with an attached food tray was piloted by staff and delivering rice sushi burgers to customers sitting in front of the venue. Doesn’t look very stable though, and hopefully there will be no wasabi in customers laps. But with a lot of dedication, little bit of know-how and blade protection this could become a viable concept. Just like sushi conveyor belt did.

4. Pizza drone delivery

Where to start with this one? First it was UK based Domino’s  pizzeria with the DomiCopter, delivering two pepperoni pizzas in 2013. Then there was Francesco’s pizzeria in Mumbai doing the same thing (ok, not the same, it was not pepperoni pizza). This is rumored to be a fake, as the pizza crate was empty. And then there was this week’s entry, a Russian active sales guy, ordering drone pizza delivery in northern Russian city of Syktyvkar. This video will be featured here as it has coolest music by far.

5. Beer Chopper

Beer is food, alright. If you ever had a two pints of wheat ale, you know how filling that can be. If you haven’t, well, you should. Anyway, beer chopper was a brainchild of Lakemaid Brewery in Minnesota, as it wanted to provide ice fishermen with a fresh cold beer, while they are on the lake. Cool idea, but it will have to wait for a while, until FAA decides what to do with commercial drones. On the other end of the world, in South Africa, OppiKoppi festival goers had a chance to see OppiKoppi Beer Drone Tech parachuting the beer as ordered. No need to stand in the long queue to have your beer thirst quenched, just use your smartphone and watch your head.

 

Coke delivery in Singapore wasn’t included intentionally. Coke  is not food, though it does make you fat.

Bon Appétit

FIFA World Cup Drones – How to spy on your opponents

Dear friends,

Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

Enjoy!

For quite some time now, UAVs or drones are present in sports. Mostly they are being used for aerial filming of open air games and races. S.L Benfica, a Portuguese football club from Lisbon, even used a drone to hand out shirts during their game, two months ago.

S.L. Benfica drone

S.L. Benfica drone

Two weeks ago, ESPN had a very cool report on how drones penetrated sport events, first as a way to offer  a new perspective to viewers, and then as a tool for coaches to capture data in order to analyze and improve teams performance.

But if a coach uses aerial filming platform to analyze his own team performance, what stops him to use a drone to analyze opponents performance?

Apparently, exactly that happened last Tuesday on a closed training session of the French national team. French national team coach Didier Deschamps is reportedly calling for an investigation into a quadcopter drone that was spotted spying over his team’s closed training session, and local police is promising a quick resolution.

Closed training sessions are being used in order to check physical fitness of key players and to decide on gametime tactics and player selection. If rival managers acquire that information, that would be a distinctive tactical advantage during the actual game. Taking into consideration the amount of money that is involved in every aspect of the FIFA World Cup ($14 billion cost to Brazilian Government, ~$500 million is the prize money pot), it is no wonder that the French coach is upset about the drone with camera flying over his team.

Using drones for military reconnaissance is long known fact, and it is almost a standard on any given battlefield. In Brazil, however, we saw for the first time a drone being used to acquire intel on a football battlefield. Dronologista thinks that Pandora’s box of drone enabled sport espionage is officially open, and we can expect more events like this to happen.

Interesting article about the case you can find on Motherboard and Yahoo! sport.

Image and video courtesy of 101 Great Goals and ESPN.

Drone Startups part 9: Skyteboard

Dear friends,

Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

Enjoy!

Social network controlled quadcopter, what in the world is that?

That would be Skyteboard, a quite nicely designed foldable quadcopter. It is controlled with an iOS or Android device, through a centralized social network, Fatdoor.com.

Skyteboard in flight mode

Skyteboard in flight mode

Being controlled via social network should allow multiple friends connected via Fatdoor social network to “do things never before possible with their mobile phones and tablets, such as “fly together” through formation flights, and do amazing coordinated activities”

Skyteboard features internal full HD camera, onboard 3G cellular, WiFi and payload capacity of 1lbs (bit less than 0.5kg). That payload capacity allows mounting of a GoPro camera for quite interesting double camera mode. Also, it should theoretically allow neighbors to exchange cupcakes or books (no, not books, no one reads books anymore). That is actually the whole idea behind Fatdoor robot business (they have one more robot called ‘Bot Appetit‘ – you should be able to imagine what it is for). Idea of neighbors connected through the social network, exchanging goodies, and having their meals delivered from corner deli shop.

And that is the biggest question mark looming over this project aiming for a $300.000 crowdfunding goal: why would someone send a drone over to his or her neighbor for a cup of sugar instead of just getting out of the house and doing it old school style? It might be that Skyteboard gets you more Fatdoor likes…

Startups are supposed to offer solutions to existing problems. Dronologista is not sure what problems Skyteboard solves apart of a problem of getting social network likes, which is not even a first world problem really. Beside dandy design, foldability (this feature is very valuable), integrated 3G control and possibility of carrying two cameras, it is not offering anything really novel and innovative. And it is not cheap either, as it should cost $1099.

If you would like to read more about Skyteboard you can check Kickstarter, Tom’s Guide, News For Shoppers and DIY Drones.

Picture and video courtesy of Fatdoor.com and Skyteboard.

 

Chocolate Copter

Dear friends,

Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

Enjoy!

This post is about amazing and tasty combination of cooking and engineering skills. It shows that all you need to have to build a quite unique quadcopter is an edible idea and following ingredients:

  • 1000g dark chocolate
  • 100g white chocolate
  • 1x Naza M V2
  • 4x Sunnysky X2216
  • 4x Turnigy Plush 25A ESC

Then you just follow this video, and you will have a drone that you can eat once you’ve done flying.

Check Chocolate Copter Youtube Channel for more

Bon Appétit!

Update:

Here is the first hand story on how it all began, and how the Chococopter was made, courtesy of one of the team members, Michael:

“My girlfriend loves baking and chocolate and I love building and flying quadcopters. That probably makes us the perfect couple fulfilling all gender specific clichés 😉 Anyway, she came up with the idea to build a chocolate copter. I was skeptical at first.

Chocolate is not as stable as aluminum or carbon – which are typically used for copter frames. Nor is it heat-resistant. As we all know from chocolate consumption, it already starts melting at body temperature. The battery, ESCs and motors, however, get rather hot while flying. So chocolate and copters definitely don’t sound like the best combination, but you never know until you try!

First we made a silicone mold from a wooden prototype. The motors and the flight controller were mounted on extended steel spacers. ESCs and the battery were taped to Styrofoam spacers. This prevents the chocolate from direct contact with the hot components and helps increase the life expectancy of the copter. The spacers of the motors were placed in position before the mold was filled with delicious, molten chocolate – this was probably the easiest way to attach the motors to the frame. After spending some hours in the fridge the frame was set and ready for the maiden flight. Needless to say the landing gear was made out of chocolate as well.

And it worked! It flew as stable and smooth as any other copter. So we have found a new way of building copters, without the need for drilling, milling or cutting! And best of all, when you get hungry during the flight sessions you always have something to nibble with you ;-)”

And since it was so much fun building it we are already working on another totally crazy copter”

 

Thank you Michael!

Bottle Service by Drone

Dear friends,

Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

Enjoy!

Summer party by the pool, lot of half-naked, inebriated, twenty somethings having the ‘time of their life’. All of a sudden, a large octocopter comes buzzing down (although you cannot hear the sound of propellers because of the pumpin’ music), with a bucket and a bottle of champagne. That, in short, describes the scene that happened couple a days a go, at The Marquee Dayclub in Las Vegas.

The drone bottle delivery service is not for free though. If you are a guest of the club, and want to impress whomever you want to impress with this service, you’ll have to shell out a trivial amount of $20.000. After Stoney Roads covered this story, Deadmou5 had a great comment on his twitter as you can see below.

deadmou5

 

Vulgarization of drones is a part of the proliferation of unmanned vehicles technology, it happened to every technology that once was new and hype (just think about phones with cameras), and it is sort of normal part in the product life cycle.

What is worrying in this particular example is that someone thought that combining flying machine with an estimated take-off weight of 5kg, with unprotected, rotating blades, and a bunch of drunk, carefree people is actually a good commercial idea. This kind of irresponsible behavior stigmatized drones in the first place, and it is no wonder that general public perceives delivery drones as a threat.

There was no accident this time at The Marquee Club, but it is just a matter of time before something bad happens. When that happens, dronologista will cover the story, just as it covered this accident.

And if you need to deliver a bottle of champagne using a drone, do it with style, like guys from Plus de Bulles did.

Cheers

 

 

Holy Drone

Dear friends,

Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

Enjoy!

The moment you realize that one of the most traditional institutions in the world, the Catholic Church, is using drones and Youtube to promote its work, is the moment when you realize that today we all are living in a friggin’ future. Yes, I’m talking about the same Catholic Church that acknowledged that Earth is circling around the Sun (not other way around)  some 20 years ago.  Moreover, it is the Archdioceses of Washington D.C, located, well, in Washington D.C, US of A.

As a part of the ritual marking the canonization of Pope John Paul II (now called St. John Paul II), the Archdioceses mixed drone-captured aerial videos with some dramatic classical music and scenes from earlier indoor Mass, as seen in the video below. (fun starts at 00:30, skip the rest)

Priced at under $1,000, the saucer-shaped, camera-laden drone will enable the Archdiocese to film events from a new perspective. It is not clear if the drone has a cross-like cross-section of a quadcopter or if it is maybe a hexacopter, but it surely brought much needed attention to Archdiocese Youtube channel. Namely, that video alone has more views that ten other most viewed vids together.

However, that is not the most interesting aspect of the story. Washington D.C. area is a declared no fly zone for drones, and according to the FAA, no one is allowed to fly within Washington DC’s Flight Restricted Zone. Obviously the flight of the blessed drone over the part of the city, was in the hands of the higher authority, so FAA just decided to turn a blind eye. No one will be fined, and the FAA will continue to randomly penalize other UAV users. Which is actually bringing dronologista to a conclusion that, if you are a religious group and you are using drones, you will not be bothered by authorities.

If that is the case maybe it is a time to start a drone religion.

Interesting article about the case you can find at Motherboard.