Ever since Amazon released the video of their Prime Air Drone, the internet has been full of drone stories. It quickly became known that Amazon was not the only company working on a drone to deliver packages.
A few examples: In Germany DHL Deutsche Post is working on their Parcelkopter, which has been making actual deliveries to the Island of Juist in the North Sea. Dutch postal company PostNL is also looking into drone deliveries, the two owners of a software company that they bought in 2012 are now operating as an internal start-up company, and looking at various innovations, among which drones. In France La Poste has pulled an April Fool’s joke with a test delivering newspapers. I have not come across information of them testing actual deliveries. And these are just the post & parcel companies.
There are a lot of issues still to be solved when it comes to package delivery by drones. There are regulatory and safety issues, and privacy issues as well. People may feel spied upon with droves of flying drones around them in the air.
But where will these delivery drones land, or drop of your parcel? Out in the yard? On the pavement, or in the middle of the street? Salvatore Manitta, the founder of Auburn based UAS Receiving, has thought of a solution for this. As he describes on his Kickstarter page and website, the Dronepad is landing pad designed to help guide the Drone and/or the package in for a safe landing. It could provide a stable landing spot in uneven terrain, or could be used as a drop off point if mounted on a wall or a pole. It is this last option that seems most viable and useful to me. It would be a good solution for densely populated urban areas. Each appartment in a high rise could have it’s own. The picture below depicts this. To the right is a picture of such a pad in a rural setting, such as a back yard or somewhere outdoors where it could provide a flat and stable landing area.
Both the Kickstarter page and the UAS website are unclear on how (or maybe I should say if?) the pad will guide the drone or the package in. I like the idea of providing a landing zone, but would expect some sort of beacon that a drone could home in to. Especially when landing on the Xth floor of a high rise or somewhere outdoors a function like that would help for the last mile, or last feet in this case. As it is depicted and described now, it seems like just a platform with lights, that could maybe be used by a drone pilot to aim at.
There is one advantage Europe will have over the US, when it comes to drones, and that is that I think less drones will be shot out of the sky. With the gun laws as they are in the US, I expect there will be quite some Drone Rangers… 🙂