Tag Archive | delivery

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.

 

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HorseFly – Unmanned Aerial Parcel Delivery System

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!

Parcel delivery UAVs are a simple idea that requires a complex technology and great deal of vision. Matternet, Amazon.com and DHL (with their Paketkopter) are actively developing their drone delivery designs, and despite restrictive regulations, it is reasonable to expect that it will become reality sooner rather than later.

There is one common thing for all above mentioned systems: they are being developed to deliver package from a fixed location, the warehouse. The fact is that there are not a lot of warehouses in any given metropolitan area, and that they are almost exclusively located on the outskirts of the city. Despite of the developing endurance and range of multirotors, it is easy to see that even with the optimally positioned warehouses around the urban area, large parts of the city will remain outside of delivery drones operational range.

That seems to be a vision that has driven guys from AMP Holding to work together with the University of Cincinnati to develop UAV that will be coupled with a delivery truck.

AMP Workhorse delivery vehicle

AMP Workhorse delivery vehicle

A remarkably simple and brilliant idea of combined truck-UAV delivery method, should work something like this: The HorseFly will be positioned atop a delivery truck, awaiting a package from the driver. When loaded, the HorseFly will scan the barcode on the package, determine the path to the delivery address via GPS and fly away – completely self-guided – to the appropriate destination. Meanwhile, the delivery truck will continue on its rounds. After successful delivery, the HorseFly will zoom back to the truck for its next delivery run and, if needed, a roughly two-minute wireless recharge.

This system will require a more complex route optimization solution, one for the delivery truck and one for the UAV, and it is not clear yet how will that part of the delivery process be sorted out. But with the delivery vehicles conveniently scattered all over the urban area, no neighborhood will be out of range and reach.

HorseFly octocopter and AMP Workhorse

HorseFly octocopter and AMP Workhorse

Essential part of this system is the safety. Steve Burns, AMP CEO says that “An important part of the HorseFly project is that we make a vehicle that will not drop out of the sky”. In addition to the sophisticated autonomous controller system, the HorseFly will have multiple built-in hardware redundancies (rotors, onboard computers, battery packs). So if, for example, multiple rotors were to fail, the HorseFly and its payload still could be retrieved safely.

It seems that we got two emerging UAV delivery technologies: one from the fixed location, warehouse (Amazon.com and DHL) and the other from the moving vehicle. It will be interesting to see which one of them will prevail.

Dronologista bets that the vehicle-UAV system is the winning combination, because it offers great flexibility and contains a potential for further development (think of automation).

Interesting articles about the HorseFLy could be found at GizmagDroneLife and University of Cincinnati news page.

Nice picture gallery can be found in Fast Company Magazine.

Pictures courtesy of PluginCars.com and Fast Company Magazine.

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

 

 

The city and the drones

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!

Skies of the cities in near future will be full of drones. They will be used for surveillance, mapping, infrastructure inspection, delivery, you name it. But how will UAV be incorporated in the existing fabric of urbanized areas? What kind of safety, legal, technical, liability, privacy etc. framework needs to be set up so that the potential of such vehicles can be fully utilized.

One of the first cities that will start experimenting with drone delivery system is Dubai. Officials of the United Arab Emirates want to introduce such system to deliver documents e.g. identification cards and driving licenses.

It will be interesting to see what will be the results of this experiment, because there are many questions to be answered:

  • What routes will drones take?
  • Will they fly over the existing street network, or above private property as well?
  • How will they be vertically and horizontally separated?
  • What kind of fail safe mechanism will be used?
  • How will the whole network be controlled etc.

Service provider that wants to use drones, will need to have some kind of “dronodrome” or station where UAV will land and take off, be serviced, recharged and loaded. Due to the limits of the operational range, several such stations need to exist throughout the city in order to cover required area. What kind of standards will be used to assess such station? Can it be privately owned?

City leaders need to start planning for the impact that drones will have on city services. New transport and delivery options may also open previously unknown opportunities in cities. But if those options are randomly embraced, without proper planning and preparation, they will create additional problems, and may harm a development of the city.

Because, no one will want to live in a city where drones are raining.