Tag Archives: drone

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.

How to Build a Drone with Legos: Add Flybrix

In the article from techcrunch.com below, learn how Flybrix has created a simple build-a-drone kit for whiz kids that includes Legos.

device pitstop flybrix photo
Photo from techcrunch.com

Kids can build a LEGO drone with Flybrix kits

By Lora Kolodny

A company called Flybrix is putting legos on the wing.

The San Francisco startup today began selling build-a-drone kits for kids age 14 and up comprised of: LEGO bricks, boom arms and motors that don’t require soldering, and other off the shelf and Flybrix-designed parts.

Once assembled, Flybrix drones are lightweight and meant to be flown indoors. They can be operated with a Bluetooth flight control app for iOS or Android smartphones, or a manual flight controller purchased from the company.

Flybrix drones are also, notably, “crash-friendly,” meaning they can be re-assembled time and again as kids experiment with their designs, and learn how to pilot them.

Co-founders of the startup, Amir Hirsch, Robb Walters and Holly Kasun, want to get teens, or younger kids with adult supervision, interested in things like geometry, aerodynamics and electrical engineering.

The company was founded in 2015 and has been developing its technology at Lemnos Labs, a foundry for hardware startups in San Francisco.

Flybrix is selling the drones direct to consumers via its own website for an introductory price of $149 for a basic kit, and $189 for a deluxe kit. Orders taken now will ship in about 6 weeks to customers, just in time for the holidays.

The basic kit includes about 40 pieces and instructions needed to build a small quadcopter. Assembly takes under fifteen minutes. Deluxe kits include more complex models and ideas and games that require kids to modify a basic design, and figure out how to make their own drones.

Flybrix’s Chief Play Officer Holly Kasun said the company isn’t officially partnering with LEGO, but has made its business known to LEGO and hopes that teens who use LEGO bricks to build drones will also try the massive toy company’s other STEM-related products, such as their LEGO Mindstorms kits.

Kasun also noted that LEGO bricks– because they’re so consistently manufactured and widely available– are used not just to inspire kids and get them building. They have long been used by mechanical and robotics engineers in labs for prototyping and design.

Flybrix cofounder Amir Hirsch attained 3 degrees in math and electrical engineering from MIT where he used LEGO products in the lab, which inspired the eventual creation of Flybrix, Kasun said.

Click here to see more from techcrunch.com.