Amazon has been working on delivery by drone for a while now. And now the world’s largest online retailer has revealed its latest drone variant. The newly-revealed Amazon Prime Air delivery drone flies using a similar approach to VTOL aircraft, taking off and landing vertically, but orienting itself horizontally once airborne.
The new drone has thermal and depth cameras, sonar, and onboard computers with machine learning, to navigate and detect hazards. It has six degrees of freedom where most quadcopters have four, allowing it to be more stable and deal with high wind conditions. They upped the safety too, as the rotors are fully shrouded. These shrouds also double as wings in forward flight.
The goal is to produce a fully-electric drone that flies up to 15 miles, delivering packages under 5 pounds in just under 30 minutes. Interestingly, 75-90 percent of individually-purchased items fall within this weight limit, so most items can be shipped in this way. Of course, multiple items pose more of a challenge.
We don’t know when we will see this drone in action over our neightborhoods, but it brings Amazon a step closer to drone delivery. The company says we will see it in the “coming months.” Hopefully, we don’t have to wait very long for Amazon Prime drone delivery.
Generally speaking, drones have either vertical takeoff capabilities or they need a runway. However, a South African startup has a better way. Their solution is to add some legs to their drone. The Passerine Sparrow Jumper has fixed wings and legs and feet for takeoff and landing. It also uses over-wing engines for thrust.
Those over-wing engines create what’s called a blown wing, where the engine exhaust passes over the top of the wing and over a portion of the wing flaps. The forced high-speed air passing over the wings and flaps generates a lot of lift; two or three times the lift of a conventional wing. This also means it can take off and land over a much shorter distance than conventional planes, and can fly much more slowly before it stalls.
However, blown wings in this scale may not be able to create the lift necessary for takeoff. That’s where the legs come in. They are spring-loaded and engineered to create enough energy required for takeoff. They spring the drone up and forward then retract when in the air. During landings, they act as shock absorbers, so no runway is required at all.
The aircraft is still in the very early prototyping stages, so it’s not ready to perform all of its tricks quite yet. However, you can see how the liftoff might work in the first video below, while the second provides an animation of of the complete take off and landing sequence:
If there’s a Star Wars fanatic in your life, we have the perfect gift for them. These Star Wars Propel drones let you fly miniature representations of classic Star Wars vehicles, There’s the T-65 X-Wing fighter, an Advanced X1 TIE fighter, and a 74-Z speeder bike, all ready to take flight.
The drones fly fast, and can even do cool tricks and stunts with the push of a button. Each one has an infrared laser beam and sensor built in, so you can battle with your friends. They also play sounds and music from the movies. Using the companion app, pilots can brush up on their skills by going on virtual training missions.
These nifty Star Wars drones originally sold for $149.95, and now you can grab one for just $49.99 in the Technabob Shop. Buy one, or buy all three for about the same price as a single one used to cost.
Drones can do all kinds of things, and now you can add window washing to the list. After all, washing windows is a dangerous job. Humans can die if they fall while working on a skyscraper. Well, the job just got safer. Also, a drone just took your job, window washers.
A company called Aerones is pioneering tall building washing via drones. These custom-built drones are about three meters in width. That’s almost 10 feet! Each one is powered by 12 motors and has hoses and sponge rollers to do its job. It also has cameras so a crew can oversee the washing process safely from the ground.
The company says that it can get the job done 20 times faster than humans. Of course, you have to get water up there to wash the windows. So the drone is tethered with a hose that feeds the water from a tank below. They also have another cable for electricity.
These drones will clean skyscrapers up to 350 meters (1,150 feet) tall due to the tether, and are outfitted with a safety cable that secures to the top of the building that prevents it from falling in the event that all rotors fail. That way it won’t fall and cause injuries below.