Monday 16 February 2015

Drone deliveries

The US FAA has ruled that drones need to remain within sight of the operator. This is a major obstacle to companies planning deliveries in the US by drone. I had wondered what kind of mapping such an enterprise would need. Where would such a delivery be made? If the address has a garden then that might be useful, but what if there are plants or garden furniture in the way? If the address has a driveway then that could be a good landing site, but if the delivery sits on the driveway what's to stop it being stolen or driven over by car arriving? If the address is an apartment on a street front will the parcel just be dumped on the street? How could a drone safely land on a sidewalk?

When a delivery is made by hand it is handed over at a doorway, posted into a mailbox or left by a thinking person in a suitable place. A person can gain access to places like a shared lobby too. Can a drone do any of this?

Maybe would-be delivery addresses need to designate a landing site for drones, maybe that would need signage and access restrictions and possibly even extra insurance.

The more I think about it the mapping needed to control this would be very detailed and very specific. I suspect that the FAA ruling is the least of the problems this idea has.


Sander said...

I think using drones to deliver material is only possible between specialised entities for now. Specialised entities could have someone or a special delivery point that actually waits for the delivery.

In this case, you may think about organ transportation between hospitals. Hospitals could have a vault, precisely mapped, where the drone can fly into.

This law may also be a limitation to non-delivery usage of drones. F.e. firemen trying to see if there are people in an inner court or backyard of a burning building.

And of course also for less important usages, like taking aerial imagery by usage of automated drones.

Chris Hill said...

Amazon proposed to deliver ordinary deliveries with a drone. They started a division called Amazon PrimeAir.