Amazon recently petitioned the FAA for permission to start testing the company’s highly publicized “Prime Air” delivery drone. The petition asserts that if the FAA denies the request, Amazon will simply test in another country with more lenient rules…
Take, for example, Belgium, where three masters students at the University of Leuven developed the VertiKUL, an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) capable of delivering packages to a destination 30 kilometers away.
Cyriel Notteboom, Menno Hochstenbach and Maarten Verbandt were tasked with building a drone for their master’s thesis.
The result is aUAS that combines the “high speed of an airplane with the take-off and landing capacities of a helicopter.”
The drone takes off like your typical small drone; four propellors provide the force for a vertical liftoff – but then the VertiKUL dips its nose 90 degrees and flies like a traditional airplane.
Guided by GPS waypoints, the VertiKUL then makes its way to the drop off point where it makes a precision landing (automatically, of course).
It’s a pretty advanced system and the advantages of a quadcopter-crossed with-a-fixed-wing hybrid are pretty apparent when you see it in action (below).
As far as actually using the VertiKUL for actual deliveries, Bart Theys, the student’s advisor says there is still a ways to go:
“We still need to teach the drone to adapt to changing weather conditions. In testing, we noticed that a strong wind can really play tricks on us. An automated landing in high winds is no easy task. That is the next challenge…Companies like Amazon are of course very interested in the technology, but there is currently no legal framework for the use of airspace. A good deal of legislation will have to be in place before your pizza can automatically delivered to your back patio. At the moment, we are focusing on the technical challenges. Thanks to the efforts of Cyriel, Menno and Maarten, we have made real progress on that front. They should be proud to call themselves Masters of Engineering.”
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com