PRE2015 3 Groep2 week1

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The idea and State of the Art

Drones can take goods that are ordered from the storage to somebodies house. The delivery is quick and orders can be handled a lot faster. This way, delivery companies can handle more orders at a higher rate. But people also get the items they have ordered really quick, which helps the satisfaction. We will distinguish two cases, in the first case drones that are used in urban areas, need to be navigated by a drone pilot, for safety reasons, since autonomous flying is not yet that advanced to safely navigate through crowded urban areas. The second case is where drones can potentially fly autonomously in rural areas or less urban areas. In both cases the drone can autonomously execute the landing when a landing zone is insight that is not obstructed.

They say that autonomous flying is not the main problem of technology anymore, some companies already want to carry out their autonomous drone in the near future [1]. Those companies however, are using less urban areas (our second case) for testing and we are curious about how their drones are going to hold in our first case. Drones need to be more reliable, they still have a tendency to crash and run into objects. Some experiments, for example from MIT, are getting better at avoiding object autonomously [3], but this problem is still big because of unexpected events that asks the drone to react very quick. Energy consumptions could also be a problem [2]. For long flights the drones need large batteries, but bigger batteries also means less space for cargo.

Another problem with delivery drones these days is the ‘problem of the last meters’. These last problems aren’t so much about the technology, since most of it already exists, but how to implement all these technologies to make it actually work. These problems are for example: how do we deliver packages in (high) apartment buildings and how do people (and animals) react to these kind of deliveries [4]. The article from the Washington Post gives a great start to start asking questions which aren’t technical, but more to the side of users. What do we want as society?

The problem with the battery-life as given above can, for example, be fixed (maybe until there are better batteries) by changing the battery of the delivery drone in the air [5]. The concept Amazon Prime Air is the best example of the given idea [6], which is (unfortunately) still a concept and not working yet. Also Google [7] and Walmart [8] are joining the competition to get the first working delivery drones ready. These three competitors all want to be the first company that can use the drones, which means that a lot of research (and money) is involved. The problem those companies are working on is the reliability of the drones.

Our idea is to look at drones and find out what the best human interaction is when they want to land. Do the buyers have to put an big A in their garden? How does this work if you live on the 3rd floor? What if the neighbours also bought a package that is due at the same time? Maybe we don’t need the pilots, but we can let the buyers fly their own package the last meters? Are the buyers home at the time the package arrives? all those questions together, what can we expect from buyers and how are we going to interact with them to let the landing go smooth?

USE/Impact → who is benefiting?