Here’s an autonomous Drone payload delivery concept, I’ve had in my head for a while, although the printing of the landing pad is something that just hit me even if it’s not new.
When will I be able to print out an A4 paper sized QR code code landing pad for drones and have things delivered? You know, like a Burrito or hard drive full of movies or maybe the really urgent replacement battery for my phone.
I envision this :
You’d go online and organise an ID, maybe your email address or something generic enough that multiple delivery providers can use it, but unique to you, it’d also have some cryptographic hash equivalent to a pin number to help prevent people stealing your gear.
You print out the piece of paper which has a square QR code and an outline of the rest of it for where goods are to be placed. This is your delivery pad. People should laminate the paper and then weigh it to the ground or stick it to the top of a table, something that’s easily visible from above.
When you order something you give them your ID, pin and Address (which does a lookup to get the GPS point), this part can be made into the equivalent of Facebook Connect or is simply a saved address type in PayPal.
The drone has your order placed inside it (probably in some lock box that makes it hard for people to steal stuff whilst in transit). The drone heads to the GPS co-ordinates and searches around for your delivery pad.
I’m guessing that most items could be dropped off without anyone there, only special items might need you to unlock the drone’s storage box similar to this april fools day video idea (which is actually a pretty cool idea), using a mobile app, or a pin pad on the drone.
With such a system in place I could have a Zamberero’s Burrito delivered daily. Although that’d probably be a waste, I’d only get it when I’m working from home and was either too busy or too lazy to cook.
A better use would be the Sneakernet hard drive to the cloud system I briefly entertained as a Startup Weekend idea.
Whilst a lot of the requisite technology exists, autonomous drones, the visual scanning, QR codes and the like, one of the biggest infrastructure issues is the lack of a decent battery pack.
With this in mind you’d need a drone hive or more likely, a distributed network of recharge stations. I envision the recharge stations to be a bunch of specialised landing pads around the place, probably on poles or on top of buildings, similar to mobile phone towers. The stations have a bunch of spare batteries which they are charging from the mains and/or hopefully also from solar PV (esp in more rural places). When the drone detects it needs more juice it heads to the nearest on the recharge station and the drones battery is replaced with a freshly charged one. Actually it’s the main battery, there would also be a tiny little secondary battery to keep the drone still on whilst the main battery was being changed.
It would only take a few moments for a robotic arm at the recharge point to physically swap the batteries, assuming the drone was built for it, allowing the drone to be on its way with little delay.
Alternatively the drone could plug itself into a charging point (or be close enough for induction charging) and charge up, although in that case you’d want multiple drones to be able to plug in at the same charging station as it would take a while, although might be a good backup in case the robotic arm is out of commision.
More advanced stations could allow for the automated replacement of rotors and other damaged parts.
A drone hive would be where the drones come to get new packages, get repaired or upgraded, can rest for a while and generally looked after. It’d be their return to home location.
The locations of the the recharge stations and drone hives would be seared into their memory and they should be able to get to the nearest one even if they only have 3 working rotors.
Some great videos on Drones :
Drone can be amazingly agile and can work together rather well
They can also build a wall (although I’m pretty sure those are fairly light bricks).
You can buy a drone for under a grand, or you can pre-order one that will follow you and other semi-autonomous fun
Project Wing – Deliveries by dropping the cargo… Although the design has been scrapped.
Want to fly your own drone? Here’s some deeets about the Phantom 2 Vision
Myth Busters extraordinaire Adam Savage loves making extra things for his drones, like a pool table, which is very similar to the landing pad idea. He also loves to charge multiple batteries at once and is just great at making his own stuff, but this is more for personal flying than autonomous drones.
Don’t like drones? Maybe you’d prefer to play with cubes (this mainly looks cool, doesn’t have super practical use, at least not on their own)