Tag Archive | multirotor

M.A.R.S. Parachutes – How to save your equipment

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! Couple of weeks ago, I […]

Amazon Prime Air in India

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!

After much of speculation about how, when and most of all, where will Amazon.com launch its drone delivery service, the answer seems to be here. Thanks to the rigidness of the FAA and negative public perception in US, drone delivery service will be launched and tested in India. According to The Economic Times, the US-based e-commerce giant will debut the drone delivery in Indian megalopolises of Mumbai and Bangalore, where it already has warehouses.

Despite of the effort  invested in gaining the permission to test fly delivery UAV, and despite the pressure put on the FAA by the coalition consisting of prominent UAV manufacturers (DJI Innovations, Parrot, 3D Robotics and Amazon.com), trials in the US is still prohibited, and will stay prohibited for quite some time. That is why Amazon.com decided to move its drone operations abroad, as announced in the shareholder letter earlier this year.

The company claims to have developed very advanced delivery UAV. Rapid development of the Amazon drones was facilitated by intense indoor testing, including test flights in their research lab in Seattle. Among features tested are agility, flight duration and redundancy. Most importantly, the company claims to have developed sense-and-avoid hardware and software that will allow its drones to automatically avoid collisions. In order to progress further with development, outdoor testing, in more realistic conditions is necessary.

India, on the other hand already had some experience with drone delivery. In May this year, Francesko’s Pizzeria from Mumbai, delivered pizza using a UAV. This however was met with a request for explanation by local police, since: “An unmanned vehicle cannot be used in Mumbai without seeking the requisite security clearance. This includes aerial vehicles. The outlet never approached us for any permission. We learnt about it through the media and have demanded an explanation”, as Additional Commissioner of Police, Madhukar Pandey told The Hindu.

However, it seems that the security clearance to use a UAV for a commercial purpose is easier to get in India than in US, despite the notorious red-tapism of Indian officials.

Dronologista will be following this interesting soap-opera like topic closely.

Additional information can be found at sUAS News and The Economic Times.

Videos courtesy of Amazon.com and Francesko’s Pizzeria.

 

Human Side(s) of UAVs – easyJet To Introduce Drones

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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.

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No, easyJet is not launching drones on its routes. At least not anytime soon. The catch is that famous British low-coster together with Bristol Robotics Labaratory (BRL) is developing and testing a drone which is supposed to inspect the aircraft, inch by inch into the smallest details, searching for distortions and irregularities on the fuselage. Beside BRL, easyJet is cooperating with companies such as Coptercraft and Measurement Solutions in order to get as precise and reliable tool as possible.

easyJet drone

easyJet drone

As the majority of us could conclude one of the main reasons to introduce drones in line maintenance of the grounded aircraft is cost cutting, the economy of scope. Also according to the Gizmag following reasons behind the decision are more or less obvious: reduction of ground time, facilitating line maintenance, increasing efficiency and precision of inspection processes etc. However as the easyJet representatives stated, the UAV is not going to completely exclude technicians and engineers from maintenance and inspections (at least for beginning), because the stake is simply to high and the reliability of the drone is questionable at this stage.

According to the easyJet’s head of engineering department Ian Davies: “Drone technology could be used extremely effectively to help us perform aircraft checks. Checks that would usually take more than a day could be performed in a couple of hours and potentially with greater accuracy.”

The idea is that drone (equipped with combo of different sensors) shuttles around the grounded plane multiple time scanning and rescaning the body of aircraft for possible damages or distortions. More details in the following video:

Aviation is one of the most heavily regulated industries and absolute priority and the top principle adopted by airlines and international airline organizations is that safety as a must. There are no alternatives nor workarounds. This is the main reason behind easyJet drone engagement initiative: providing safe service at decreased cost, using latest technology.

The whole project started from the scratch and many details would have to be worked out by participants. Hours and hours of testings are surely ahead of the easyJet’s engineering department. But we frankly hope that the airline will make its way through all the harsh challenges it might face and that in the near future its 220 strong fleet could expect even more efficient and precise inspection support. Observing this from the human life perspective and having in mind significance of aforementioned, one does not have to mention tremendous break-through we are witnessing.

We would be pleased to keep you updated in the future on this particularly interesting story which will have a profound effect on safety inspections, not only of aircraft, but also other safety critical equipment.

5 attempts of drone food delivery

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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

Riot Control Drone

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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!

Initially, I wanted to write about an awesome graphical overview of the civilian drone landscape, created by SkyTrails, available at Scribd. Unfortunately, I had to change that plan, as I feel strong compulsion to write about this creation: Skunk Riot Control Drone.

Skunk Riot Control Drone

Skunk Riot Control Drone

Dronologista is a blog that covers non military drones only. That means drones that are being used for value creating things like aerial filming, precision agriculture, logistics, art etc. It explicitly excludes drones that are being used for military operations and whose purpose is to search & destroy, since I am of opinion that those UAV are getting enough media attention already.

However, someone figured that arming a drone, a multirotor, with non-lethal armament with an intention to use it on humans, could be a good, value creating, economically feasible idea. That someone is a South African company Desert Wolf, known for their camping and other specialized offroad trailers.

Their product, a UAV called Skunk, is a octocopter equipped with four high-capacity paint ball barrels, that could shoot protesters with dye markers, solid plastic pellets, or small capsules of pepper spray. It is controlled by two human operators, one controlling the flight of the UAV, and the other controlling the payload. Despite the price tag of around $46.000, already 25 of Skunks have been sold to mining companies in South Africa, notorious for their problematic treatment of mine workers and frequent riots. That is the scariest thing actually: apart from quite brilliant engineering, there is nothing good about this flyer, yet it seems to be a market success, confirming once more saying: guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

Knowing how crowds usually react to drones hovering over their heads (check the video below), it is not hard to imagine the outrage this drone would cause.

It seems that this step-by-step instruction on how to build the net gun, available on Instructibles, could soon become one of the most downloaded content on the net.

Anyway, dronologista thinks that much better application of this drone would be against poachers, and hopefully someone will get idea out of this post (e.g. applicants for the UAV Conservation Challenge)

If you want to find out more about this product, you can check Desert Wolf page.

Interesting articles about the Skunk could be found at BBC news, and Defenceweb.

Image courtesy of Desert Wolf.

Drone Startups part 10: Skysense

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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.

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Multirotors and fixed wing drones are being used for precision farming, land monitoring and industrial inspection. Limited capacity of batteries and high costs of field operators constitute a severe limitation in operations that could be highly automated.

Skysense, a Berlin based startup, is trying to solve that issue in a very innovative manner. Instead of developing better batteries, they are developing charging pads and drone hangars.

Skysense charging pad and multirotor drone

Skysense charging pad and a multirotor

Charging pad is a robust, waterproof aluminium plate, with a wide landing area, that enables wireless battery charging. It is very thin, only 1.5 inches (less than 4 cm) and very light, 4 pounds (less than 2 kg).

Skysense charging pad

Skysense charging pad

 

The charging pad can charge batteries as fast as a regular charging cable, and it supports nearly all existing multirotor and VTOL drones.

Skysense hangar is another product in development, and it is supposed to store and charge UAV between the flights. It is a protective structure that includes charging pad, it is remotely managed, and it provides syncing of collected data between the UAV and the cloud data storage.

Construction, mining, oil & gas,  solar & wind and other industries are already using drones for land surveying and inspection, but operation of these industrial UAV requires a human operator. Skysense is a step into direction of fully automated drone operation. In that sense, it is somewhat similar to the Skycatch, another startup that is targeting the same market. The difference is that Skykatch enables automation through battery swapping, where Skysense does the same through wireless recharging. And while Skycatch enables almost instant operation of the drone, Skysense trades off speed of recharging for significantly less moving parts, theoretically improving reliability.

Which concept will be winning, we will see in coming years.  At the end it might be something in between, like swapping the batteries, while enabling their wireless recharge.

Images courtesy of Skysense.

HorseFly – Unmanned Aerial Parcel Delivery System

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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.