Zipline delivers by parachute drop. Measure delivers to hospital rooftops. Amazon proposes that we put out a welcome mat for drone delivery. But UK-based product design and development firm Cambridge Consultants has developed DelivAir, “a drone delivery concept that can deliver a package straight to the hands of its recipient, no matter their location,” says the company.
“Drones aren’t limited by terrain or traffic, so why should they be limited to delivering to a zip or postal code?” asks Cambridge Consultants.
In a press release, the firm explains how their technology works:
Cambridge Consultants’ vision was to make deliveries safely and directly into the recipient’s hand. The company has achieved this through a drone delivery system that implements a patent pending two stage routing process. The delivery starts by using GPS to navigate to a user’s smart phone location, periodically requesting secure location updates during the flight until it arrives within visual range. Then the drone switches to precision optical tracking and a 3D imaging and ranging system to both locate and authenticate the recipient.
When the drone reaches the recipient, they simply point their mobile phone flash LED to the sky which blinks a coded pattern, allowing the drone to verify that it is delivering to the correct person. The drone moves directly above this flashing LED, remaining at a safe height above ground. The package is then lowered down into the recipient’s hands, using a stabilizing winch to keep the package steady, where it is then simply unhitched by the recipient and the drone returns to its base.
This type of ultra-precision delivery is ideal for instant delivery of items needed right away, such as delivering a first aid kit to a hiker, or an inner tube to a stranded cyclist or even bringing essential components into remote regions during times of disaster. The most compelling use cases may be in cases of medical supplies, such as delivering an EpiPen or a defibrillator to a person in need of these life-saving necessities.
“Drone delivery is fast and ideal for something that is needed immediately. In that case, a consumer wants a delivery directly to them as a person – not to a location,” said Nathan Wrench, head of the industrial and energy business at Cambridge Consultants. “Our DelivAir concept has the potential to revolutionize the delivery process, by removing the address restriction that other drone technologies are limited by. We are taking cloud retail to the next level, delivering out of the clouds and into your hand.”
“Ultra-precision is the future of drone delivery, and the opportunities are almost limitless,” said Wrench. “The mobile phone changed the way we make calls, from a location to an individual; we believe this technology has the potential to re-shape e-commerce in the same way, making deliveries to a person a practical proposition, no matter where they are.”
The technology does solve a theoretical problem in drone delivery – how to get important items to individual consumers where they are truly useful, rather than just expedite regular shipping for the benefit of e-commerce companies. It seems probable that Cambridge Consultant’s routing process may have numerous applications. Still, the technology is still far in advance of regulations, which have not yet progressed to the point where drone delivery except along pre-defined routes is practical in most countries.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.
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