Soon, drones could deliver to people not places
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.
Drone delivery systems have been publicised for some time now, but most are restricted by the need to deliver to a specific address. But drones aren’t limited by terrain or traffic, so why should they be limited to delivering to a zip or postal code?
Cambridge Consultants' vision is 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 smartphone 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 stabilising winch to keep the package steady, where it is then simply unhitched by the recipient and the drone returns to its base.
“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 revolutionise 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.”
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 defibrilator to a person in need of these life-saving necessities.
“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."