certified cargo dronesDrone Deliveries Are Skyrocketing Where They’re Allowed

November 13, 2021by helo-10

Drone deliveries are taking off madly, at least, where they’re allowed. We live in a wild new era where small deliveries can touch down within minutes of being ordered, traveling across town at high speeds. At this point, the only hold-up is red tape. The service is very popular in the few places where drone deliveries are permitted– including the Australian city of Logan, Queensland.

Wing Drone Delivery Service

Alphabet’s Wing spinoff has already made as many as 50,000 deliveries in Logan since it launched activities in 2019 via its app and service, making the Australian city the world’s drone delivery capital.

Wing has flown out sushi rolls, BBQ chickens, snack packs, coffees, hardware items, and an array of other small packages on demand. So far, eleven local businesses are acting as suppliers. According to Wing, demand for the ultra-fast drone delivery service is growing dramatically wherever it’s available. The company claims that deliveries grew by 500% from 2019 to 2020 and that in the second quarter of 2021, it made more deliveries than in all of 2020.

Wing uses autonomous, lift-and-cruise style, electric multi-copter drones that weigh 10.6 lb (4.8 kg) and can carry 3.3 lb (1.5 kg). The 4.3 ft (1.3 m) long drone has 12 vertical lift propellers and two forward propellers, with a 5-ft (1.5-m) wingspan. In addition, top speeds reach 64.9 mph (104.4 km/h) and round-trip distances up to 12 miles (20 km). Furthermore, there are several batteries and navigation systems “for the sake of redundancy.”

Wing’s drone delivery services are taking off wherever aviation authorities allow them to. (Credit: Wing)

Small packages are loaded and attached to ropes. The drones fly autonomously using onboard cameras, sensors, and Wing’s air traffic control systems. Once they reach their destination, they hover at an altitude of 23 ft (7 m) and lower the package down on its tether. When the box comes to the ground, it’s unclipped, then the rope retracts, and the drone flies away.

Wing had Virginia Tech research how people feel about drone deliveries and found that between 23% to 50% of people support the idea in areas that don’t offer the service, while roughly 90% support it in places where it’s established and available.

People who were not impressed with drone deliveries complained about the noise. Eight months ago, a resident living under a Wing flight path commented in a Reddit thread: “I’m getting buzzed by these things 5-10 times an hour, every hour, of every day of my life. The soundtrack of my existence is now these drones just whizzing past my place, and they’re really not very high up either.”

However, Wing addressed this issue in May, reducing the noise of the drones by roughly 50%. And sure enough, the same Reddit user updated the thread five months ago, stating that “the traffic has actually backed off a bit. I don’t know if it’s related to flight paths or their promo weekends are no longer happening but, my neighbor and I were speaking over the fence when one of the quieter ones flew past, and to their credit, it was significantly better.”

Drone Deliveries Are Skyrocketing Where They're Allowed
(Credit: Wing)

One thing is sure, drone deliveries are part of the urban life future and can make many things better. For example, they’ll get items to your door faster than ever before, cheaper, and without adding more traffic to the roads or burning fossil fuel. On that note, they’ll also be safer for city residents on the streets because they won’t cause any road crashes.

Wing plans to continue expanding its services, first focusing on small cities with populations under 500K, where local aviation authorities permit them to operate. Eventually, autonomous deliveries will likely be fully certified nationwide as technologies continue to advance and engineers improve drones to become even more precise, efficient, and less disruptive.

Watch Wing make deliveries in the short video below.

A2Z RDSX Cargo-Dropping Delivery Drone

Last year, California-based A2Z Drone Delivery unveiled its Rapid Delivery System 1 (RDS1), letting third-party delivery drones drop packages to customers on a long rope. Now, the technology has been incorporated into a custom-designed multicopter drone.

The initial RDS1 kit consists of a motorized reel of Kevlar cord, at the end of which has an elastic fabric black pouch that can hold a payload weighing up to 2 kg (4.4 lb).

Once the drone reaches its location, it hovers at an altitude of 46 m (150 ft) and releases the brake on the reel, causing the pouch to freefall through the air. Before that pouch hits the ground, the brake is reapplied, slowing it to a stop. This function is possible thanks to a LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) sensor built into the drone, which measures precisely how far the aircraft is from the ground.

Drone Deliveries Are Skyrocketing Where They're Allowed
(Credit: A2Z Drone Delivery)
Drone Deliveries Are Skyrocketing Where They're Allowed
(Credit: A2Z Drone Delivery)

The pouch is then reeled back up to the drone once the customer retrieves their package. The system has several advantages, including keeping the aircraft’s noise and dangerous spinning propellers away from the public and making drone deliveries more efficient since they don’t have to waste time and energy maneuvering up and down or around obstacles.

The original RDS1 was designed to be installed on a DJI Matrice 600 Pro hexacopter, but now, the system is integrated into A2Z’s new RDSX octocopter. However, it still works on the same principles; the only difference is that the drone has two reel/cargo box units, making two 2 kg deliveries (or one delivery of two pouches) per mission.

The RDSX. (Credit: A2Z Drone Delivery)

According to the company, the RDSX has a battery range of approximately 9 miles (15 km) when carrying two loads, or 18 mi (30 km) if carrying one. Two sets of batteries are included (8 in total), which can be quickly swapped out at the base station. When the drone is not in use, its propeller arms can be folded in, turning it into a 2.6 by 4.3 ft- wide cube (0.8 m-tall by 1.3 m).

If the copter experiences a power failure or gets into a risky situation, it can deploy a safety parachute and jettison its payload. Finally, while the RDSX can autonomously make deliveries, dual cameras enable remotely located operators to fly it manually. In addition, they can also take manual control of the cargo box drops if needed.

Watch the RDSX in action in the video below.

Wingcopter Drone Delivery Service

In March 2020, German drone maker Wingcopter and United Parcel Service (UPS) partnered to deliver its packages to remote locations that would otherwise be very difficult. UPS Flight Forward (UPSFF) was the first company approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the first to fly commercial drone deliveries outside the visual line of sight.

Wingcopter was used in Vanuatu to deliver vaccines for children in remote parts of the island that would typically take more than 6 hours to walk. In other beyond visual line of sight (BVLOD) flights, Wingcopter has also delivered insulin across the North Sea to an Irish Island. The drone’s ability to lower the packages down without needing a landing spot gives them even more range.

UPS partners with Wingcopter for drone delivery services
UPS partners with Wingcopter for drone delivery services. (Credit: Wingcopter)

In addition to using drones to deliver medical supplies to hospitals and medical facilities, UPSFF also plans to deliver retail, prescriptions, and medical products in residential settings.

On April 27, 2021, Wingcopter launched a new generation model, its flagship eVTOL fixed-wing delivery drone – the Wingcopter 198. And now, the transport drone pioneer has partnered with Air Methods to form a healthcare-specific drone delivery network across the US.

This new Air Methods/Wingcopter drone delivery network, called Spright, will improve access to urgently needed medical supplies for healthcare workers and the communities they serve. To make this possible, Air Methods will deploy fleets of Wingcopter 198.

Drone Deliveries Are Skyrocketing Where They're Allowed
(Credit: Wingcopter)
The Wingcopter 198 in hover mode
The Wingcopter 198 in hover mode. (Credit: Wingcopter)

Air Methods, founded in 1980, currently has more than 300 bases across 48 states in the US. In addition, it has a fleet of 450 helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, making roughly 100,000 deliveries of medical supplies and equipment annually to hospitals and residents, predominantly in rural areas.

Wingcopter’s 25.5 x 77.9 x 59.8 in (65 x 198 x 152 cm) flagship eight-rotor delivery drone can ascend vertically like a helicopter and then transition to fixed-wing horizontal flight once flying. It can deliver up to three separate packages to multiple destinations with a total weight of 5 kg (11 lb) during a single flight. Each parcel is lowered by its own winch from hovered flight mode.

The Wingcopter 198 can carry three packages and drop them off at multiple locations in one flight
The Wingcopter 198 can carry three packages and drop them off at multiple locations in one flight. (Credit: Wingcopter)
Wingcopter's smart battery modules can be swapped out in seconds
Wingcopter’s smart battery modules can be swapped out in seconds. (Credit: Wingcopter)

Tom Plümmer, the co-founder and CEO of Wingcopter, explained:

We are thrilled to team up with Air Methods to create a life-saving drone delivery network throughout the United States. Our technology has been used globally to effectively deliver medical supplies, for example, insulin in Ireland, children’s vaccines in Vanuatu, emergency medication in Malawi, and just recently, blood samples in Germany.


Our vision to ‘save and improve lives’ resonates perfectly with Air Methods’ legacy of providing life-saving care, combined with Spright’s ambition to improve the quality of healthcare across the US by deploying fleets of Wingcopters, and we are excited about scaling this together.

Drone Deliveries Are Skyrocketing Where They're Allowed
(Credit: Wingcopter)

Spright will initially launch as a pilot trial in Kansas this (Northern Hemisphere) fall with partners Hutchinson Regional Medical Systems. Assuming the proof of concept proves successful, a nationwide network of rapid drone delivery of medical supplies will be rolled out using Air Methods’ existing bases.

Besides making deliveries more convenient, drones also make inspections safer, quicker, easier, and cheaper. For example, drones inspect live powerlines, railway tracks, and subway tunnels, which are dangerous, challenging, and expensive procedures when humans perform the task.

Spright will initially launch as a pilot project in Kansas
Spright will initially launch as a pilot project in Kansas. (Credit: Wingcopter)

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There is more to being a drone pilot than just buying a machine and flying in your backyard. It can be that simple, but most of us will need to understand some drone laws before we try to take to the sky.


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