Tag Archives: drone economy

CNBC report on the new drone economy with a short interview to Chris Anderson

CNBC issued a nice short video on the new drone economy. Clearly the drones business is just starting and we will see a great expansion of the drone economy, in particular in the civilian market. Personal drones are on the rise!

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DHL plans to launch drone/quadcopter based delivery service

After the news about books and pizza drone delivery services, and the recent announcement of the launch of “Amazon Prime Air”, now also the German express courier delivery service DHL wants to enter the game of quadcopter deliveries.

DHL quadcopter for the new drone delivery service - source
DHL quadcopter for the new drone delivery service – source

For the test drive, or maiden flight, the selection of what to carry and deliver was highly significant and probably want to send a message: a packet with a medicine was delivered from a Bonn pharmacy to the DHL headquarters, a two minutes journey.

This screenshot from the DHL web site indeed is indicative of an attention of DHL to the logistics of deliveries for Life Sciences and Health Care:

DHL dedication to Life Sciences and Healthcare
DHL dedication to Life Sciences and Healthcare

The quadcopter weights about 3Kg and was called the  “Paketkopter”.

The DHL "Packetcopter" quadcopter for urgent deliveries - Source
The DHL “Paketcopter” quadcopter for urgent deliveries – Source

The test flights required permission from local aviation authorities.

Souces: DailymailMyfoxny

Check out this video by a DHL fan who built a supposedly unofficial DHL helicopter before the official quadcopter was released :

So in one way or another, we’ll probably see DHL in the air soon.

DHL unofficial helicopter - Source: screenshot from the video above
Unofficial DHL helicopter – Source: screenshot from the video above

A new announcement of a multirotor/drone based delivery service: Amazon Prime Air

We have recently reported about new possibly upcoming drone/multirotor based delivery services for books and pizza.

How about extending multirotor deliveries to the full amazon catalogue (limited to small sized items)? Direct delivery from Amazon to your doorstep in under 30 minutes from the moment you place the order online with the new Amazon Prime Air service.

Here’s the Amazon YouTube video that totalized slightly less than 12 million visits since december 1 2013. In just 5 days this is an amazing page views score. This shows a huge interest from the public that will possibly support the development of the project.

Amazon is realistic and acknowledges that actual implementation of the project could well take a few years. This is a statement on the Amazon page:

“Putting Prime Air into commercial use will take some number of years as we advance the technology and wait for the necessary FAA rules and regulations.”

However right below, in the same page FAQ section, we read:

“Q: When will I be able to choose Prime Air as a delivery option?
A: We hope the FAA’s rules will be in place as early as sometime in 2015. We will be ready at that time.”

Amazon Prime Air octocopter
Amazon Prime Air octocopter – Click for high res version
Amazon Prime Air
Amazon Prime Air – Click for high res version

Indeed, the development of such a multirotor based service will have to deal closely with FAA and it’s regulations. Current rules allow flying any RC model, with a number of restrains, but commercial services require an explicit permit from FAA to be carried out. This is the base for the well know story of Raphael Pirker and the FAA commercial flying ban, where Raphael Pirker aka “Trappy”, funder of Team Black Sheep, was issued a 10.000$ fine by FAA for taking some aerial footage, for money, of the University of Virginia. We covered the story here.

Would FAA allow Amazon to launch such a service, as described in the promotional video above, tomorrow? Likely not for a number of very good reasons in my opinion.

Jeff Bezos presents the new Amazon Prime Air multirotor based delivery service
JAmazon CEO Jeff Bezos presents the new Amazon Prime Air multirotor based delivery service

A number of safety concerns are involved in such a project. The machine itself must be full proof with redundant control and power systems. Research required in this field as the technology is still relatively new. What kind of avoidance systems will be in place? Camera/video based? Sonar based? Both? Research required. How do you deal with the dogs welcome committee at landing? (see here). How do you ensure reliable and secure delivery, after all a packet is just left on a front yard, a number of things could happen before the customer actually get it in his hands.

Here’s a video that discusses a number of potential issues:

Despite all these problems to be solved, some kind of minor issues, other more serious, It looks to me that it’s just a matter of time before we get to see drones delivering items to our doorstep. The questions is not really if we are going to see this, but when.