Tag Archives: Drone Delivery

Amazon proposes designated airspace for drones

This is how Amazon thinks drones should fit into U.S. airspace.

Amazon envisions a future delivery system that can get packages to your doorstep in 30 minutes or less using small unmanned aerial vehicles. Before Prime Air can come to fruition, though, it must first overcome a fair share of regulatory hurdles. To get the ball rolling, the retailer recently laid out a proposal that aims to divide the U.S. airspace into various layers for different categories of drones, all while keeping them away from airplanes.


The plan, which was described by Amazon’s top drone executive at the NASA UTM Convention, would include two different lanes at varying altitudes: one for “low speed localized traffic” below 200 feet and another for “high-speed transit” between 200 and 400 feet in the sky. Meanwhile, the 400-500 feet range would be deemed a “no fly zone,” unless for emergencies.

Right now, the FAA regulates all manned air travel using humans and air traffic towers. However, the latest pitch is part of a broader effort to develop automated systems that would maintain order amid the growing number of drones soaring around U.S. skies. The Amazon vision shares many similarities to NASA’s plan for an automated drone-traffic management system, a project that already has gained interest from more than 100 enterprises and universities.


As The Verge points out, there would also be vehicle-to-vehicle communication, similar to that of autonomous automobiles. The positional data of each drone would be collected by a command station and shared with every other vehicle connected to the network. Access to the different layers of the airspace would be governed by how well a drone can communicate with its pilot, the central network, and other UAVs. If a flying gadget cannot connect to others, it will be required to remain below 200 feet. This new air traffic control system would link drones to traditional aircraft as well.

While it remains unclear as to which organization will steward the project, it appears NASA has taken the lead. The agency has partnered with Verizon on a new program that would enable cell towers to serve as nodes in this system, helping to track drones and exchange critical information between aircraft and fleets. According to The GuardianVerizon is scheduled to introduce a concept for using cell coverage for data, navigation, surveillance and tracking of drones by 2017.


While the future of drone delivery remains up in the air (no pun intended), as more companies collaborate with government agencies, it’s only a matter of time before services like Prime Air become a reality.

[Images: Amazon, The Verge]

Alibaba becomes the latest company to test drone deliveries

It’s a bird… It’s a plane… It’s a tea-delivering drone! 

When it comes to the concept of delivery by drone, what’s not to love? Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, has now begun testing drones for one-hour deliveries in China, following in the footsteps (or should we say air tracks) of other companies like Amazon, Google and DHL.


The one-off test, which was in collaboration with Shanghai YTO Express Logistics, was announced on Alibaba’s Taobao shopping website showing a drone quickly delivering a packet of ginger tea to a woman who apparently needed tea in a jiffy. All together, the trial will transport supplies to 450 customers in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou over a three-day period between February 4-6, 2015.

What’s more, Alibaba claims that its 49-renimbi ginger tea packets will be delivered within an hour. As CNBC reports, the drones won’t land directly on a consumer’s front door, but outside a residential buildings instead. There, the package will be collected by human couriers who will complete the remaining part of the delivery process.

“By conducting the trial, Taobao and YTO Express officials aren’t hinting that drone-delivery service is ripe for commercialization,” the Alizila blog post explained. “Aviation authorities in China and the U.S. are pondering regulations to govern such activities.”

Regulation is also very strict in China, and operators of drones must first seek permission from the Civil Aviation Administration before piloting the flying device. Like Amazon, Alibaba would first have to abide by numerous regulations if it wanted to truly roll out a broader drone delivery system.

Door-to-door courier service is just one of many applicable uses of these unmanned aerial vehicles — many of which powered by AVR microcontrollers — and rely upon real-time apps. As our friends at PubNub reveal, no matter what the use case is, you need a way to signal and control those drones in real-time. With PubNub Data Streams, you can send and receive data between IoT embedded devices and microcontrollers, enabling Internet of Things developers to build interactive and powerful UAV applications.

BIZZBY Sky trials on-demand drone delivery via real-time app

When it comes to the concept of delivery by drone, what’s not to love? While we’ve already seen major couriers like DHL and Amazon Prime prepare to take flight, a number of other companies ranging from Domino’s Pizza to Google also have their minds set on the sky.


Now, on-demand lifestyle services app BIZZBY has begun trials of a collect-and-deliver autonomous drone delivery service, which is capable of shipping small objects in real-time at the touch of a smartphone button. In addition, the London-based company says that the flying ‘copter can show real-time footage from an on-board camera.


In a recent statement, BIZZBY reveals that drones can be requested in seconds to arrive at a pick-up location within minutes. Talk about speedy delivery!

“An automated secure storage box is released to accept delivery items of up to 500 grams. At the tap of a button the drone departs to the delivery address, while an on­board camera delivers real­time footage of its journey to the recipient directly within the app. On arrival, the item is released from the secure compartment,” the company writes.


With the emergence of the Internet of Things and ubiquity of smart devices, BIZZBY is hoping to enable everyone to book their own delivery drone in a matter of seconds. Unlike other attempts before it, the company is focused on moving everyday items between everyday people.

“We are currently focused on delivering on­-demand lifestyle services from cleaning, handymen, beauty, deliveries to everyday help and believe in using technology to make our lives easier. As the pioneer of on­-demand services we believe drone delivery is the future and we’re at the forefront of its development,” says Rohan Sinclair Luvaglio, BIZZBY Founder and CEO.


The project’s greatest constraint at the moment are the UK’s civil aviation authority (CAA) regulations, battery power, weight and flight distance. Currently, the unmanned vehicles are able to fly at heights nearing 400-feet using built-in sensors to avoid collisions and adhere to restricted fly zones. In an attempt to counter the battery issue, the drones also include a reserve battery to help get the drone home safely.

“Although it may seem futuristic, technology is advancing rapidly and it’s a matter of time before we’re able to roll the service out to the public,” explains Luvaglio. “This is the future and we’re proud to be the first UK company driving innovation, just imagine the possibilities this opens up from delivering important documents, keys to urgent medical supplies ­ the sky’s the limit.”

Door-to-door delivery is just one of many applicable uses of these unmanned aerial vehicles — many of which powered by AVR microcontrollers — and rely upon real-time apps. As our friends at PubNub recently wrote, no matter what the use case is, you need a way to signal and control those drones in real-time. With PubNub Data Streams (which now support Arduino), you can send and receive data between IoT embedded devices and microcontrollers, enabling Internet of Things developers to build interactive and powerful drone applications.

You can stay up-to-date with the latest developments from the team by visiting their official website here. Meanwhile, you can access their full announcement here.

UPS looks to UAV

UPS CEO-elect David Abney recently revealed that he sees potential for shipments by drone, while also acknowledging that there are many issues to be resolved, particularly those dealing with safety.

“We do believe that at some point in time that there will be a use for drones,” he explained. “We’ve looked at that technology for a long time… It may be very time-urgent, time-sensitive, expensive shipments or things like that.”


These comments come on the heels of online retailer Amazon’s request last week for permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to test drones over its property. Amazon announced a plan last December to deliver packages with unmanned aerial vehicles.

“I don’t think it’s a question of if it’s going to happen…”

(Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)