Parachutes for Amazon Packages via Drones

Is Amazon one step closer to actually delivering packages to homes via drones? Find out in this article from pcmag.com.

Amazon drone
Photo courtesy Amazon.

Amazon Considers Parachutes for Drone Delivered Packages

By Matthew Humphries

Why risk a landing when a package can be dropped from a safe height…

Amazon needs to overcome a number of hurdles in order to make Prime Air drone deliveries a reality. The biggest of those is the fact that under current laws it isn’t legal. But if we assume laws will change and Amazon drones are going to fill the skies, the next problem to solve is the best way to leave a package at its destination.

The most obvious way to achieve this is to have the drone land, release the package from its underbelly, and take off again. But this method carries a lot of risk. A pet or human could be injured by the drone, the drone could topple over and become stuck, or it could be stolen. It’s much safer to keep the bow-and-arrow-proof drone flying at all times, so Amazon is investigating other ways to, quite literally, drop the package off at its destination.

CNN discovered a new patent granted to Amazon, entitled “Maneuvering a package following in-flight release from an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV),” which describes methods to “forcefully propel a package” from a drone in order to alter its descent trajectory. In other words, the ability to drop a package and make sure it lands in the right place.

Three methods of controlled descent are discussed: a parachute, landing flaps, and compressed air canisters. All three allow for the direction of a dropped package to be changed if necessary (for example, there’s high winds blowing the package off course). The drone would monitor the descent, sensors would be included with the package, and together they can determine if an adjustment is needed. If so, a flap can be deployed, the canister could fire a blast or two of air, or one or more parachutes could be released.

Even though this drop method would allow the drone to keep flying, they all sound like very complicated and expensive ways to get a package to drop in the right place. Wouldn’t it just be easier to have the drone determine how low it needs to hover based on the weather conditions to ensure a successful drop? Then encase the parcel in a drop-friendly protective packaging and let it go. Simple, cheap, reliable.

Click here to see more from pcmag.com.

Coming Soon: Personal Robot Carrier

No more tired arms or back from carrying your groceries home, the Gita cargo robot promises to help you carry any load (up to 40 pounds) without pushing, pulling or exerting any energy other than simply watching it do the heavy lifting for you! Read more about this autonomous carrier in the following article from foxnews.com.

device pitstop gita robot
Photo Courtesy Piaggio Fast Forward

Check out this personal cargo robot from the maker of Vespa scooters

By Trevor Mogg

As manufacturer of the Vespa, Piaggio already has plenty of experience making stylish two-wheeled vehicles.

Now, an off-shoot of the firm — Piaggio Fast Forward — is hoping to score another success, this time with a soon-to-launch autonomous personal cargo carrier.

Called Gita (pronounced “jee-ta,” which in Italian means “short trip”), the diminutive robot resembles a large blue ball with what appear to be two bicycle wheels attached.

In a further nod to the more famous part of its business, Piaggio Fast Forward explains that Gita has been “designed and engineered with the same attention to safety, braking, balancing, and vehicle dynamics that you would expect of a high-performance motorcycle.”

Designed to follow a human operator or move autonomously in a mapped environment, 66-cm-tall Gita includes obstacle-avoidance technology to ensure a bump-free journey from A to B. It can handle a decent weight, too — up 40 pounds — with its consignment secured inside a decent-sized compartment that comes with a lockable lid.

Gita’s zero turning radius and top speed of 22 mph make it both nimble and quick, so whether you’re a fast walker or on your bike, this particular robotic companion shouldn’t have any trouble keeping up as you head home from the supermarket with your freshly bought supplies.

At first glance, battery-powered Gita seems like the kind of robot you might actually like to have alongside you when you can’t be bothered to carry a stack of stuff between locations. It certainly looks more stylish than this autonomous basket-carrying helper.

“The transportation and robotics industries tend to focus on optimizing tasks and displacing labor,” Jeffrey Schnapp, CEO of Piaggio Fast Forward, said in a release. “We’re developing products that augment and extend human capabilities, instead of simply seeking to replace them.”

To begin with, Piaggio Fast Forward wants to offer Gita to businesses for trials aimed at refining its design, but it also plans to offer a version to the likes of you and me before too long. So if the idea of your own robot butler, then stay tuned.

Gita’s official unveiling takes place at Piaggio Fast Forward’s Boston headquarters on Thursday, at which time we’ll hopefully find out more details such as pricing and availability.

Click here to see more from foxnews.com.

More Audiobook Sources Coming to iTunes

Check out this quick article from theverge.com, which explains how you’ll soon see more audiobook sources available on iTunes:

Photo courtesy of theverge.com
Photo courtesy of theverge.com

Apple and Amazon end decade-long audiobook exclusivity deal

Regulators said the deal was limiting competition

By Jacob Kastrenakes

Apple and Amazon have agreed to end an exclusivity agreement that made Audible the only seller of audiobooks inside of iTunes.

The agreement had been in place for over a decade, since 2003, but came to an end earlier this month following complaints from German publishers and investigations by European antitrust regulators, who were concerned that the agreement was stifling competition and raising prices.

Regulators began investigating in late 2015. It appears all investigations are being suspended in light of the companies’ decisions to end the exclusivity agreement.

“With the deletion of the exclusivity agreement, Apple will now have the opportunity to purchase digital audiobooks from other suppliers,” Andreas Mundt, president of Germany’s antitrust agency, said in a statement. “This will enable a wider range of offer and lower prices for consumers.”

In a statement, Audible confirmed that it had removed the exclusivity provision in its agreement with Apple, and added that it will continue to offer audiobooks through iTunes. Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

The European Commission said it welcomed the agreement. It said the change is “likely to improve competition” for audiobook distribution in Europe — though, since the agreement applied elsewhere, it could have the same affect globally, too.

Audible has dominated the audiobook market for years now. And with iTunes being one of the key places that consumers go to buy audiobooks, the agreement could have put serious limitations on the industry. Publishers either had to go through Audible, or miss out on a major storefront. They’ll now be able to go directly to Apple for distribution.

Click here to see more from theverge.com.