Wing has announced that it will now begin using its UAS to deliver clothing items from LSKD, a street/sportswear fashion label in Queensland, Australia. The service is available through Wing’s app, as customers can select what they want from the LSKD summer collection, which includes shirts, shorts, gym wear, caps and dresses, and have them delivered to them by Wing’s UAS. “It’s an insane feeling being the first street lifestyle clothing brand to launch air delivery with Wing in Queensland,” says Jason Daniel, founder of LSKD. “Come launch day, our customers will be able to place an order on a Friday afternoon and receive it within minutes, just in time for the weekend.” Wing is no stranger to making deliveries via UAS in Australia, as it launched its delivery service in two suburbs of Logan, Australia last year. In collaboration with FedEx Express, Wing also completed a scheduled commercial residential delivery using a UAS to a home in Christiansburg, Virginia in Oct. 2019, marking the launch of the first scheduled, commercial residential drone delivery service, and the first scheduled e-commerce delivery via drone delivery trial in the United States.
Udelv, which develops autonomous delivery vehicles (ADVs), has signed a deal with Narnia Road and Esperanza Real Estate Investments to supply Oklahoma City’s (OKC) largest local chain of grocery stores with self-driving delivery vans. According to udelv, the grocery chain is the first in the world to make such a large scale investment in ADVs. “The partnership between udelv and Esperanza and the BFL Company of stores is a historic agreement and signals the start of ADVs making everyday life easier for Americans,” says udelv CEO, Daniel Laury. “We’re proud to be working with a visionary company committed to helping us pioneer the future of delivery technology.” Through the agreement, udelv will provide an initial 10 customized cargo vans to service online deliveries in the OKC metro area to supermarkets such as Uptown Grocery, Buy For Less, Buy For Less Super Mercado and Smart Saver. The first vehicle is expected to be delivered in Q1, 2019, and the full fleet will be delivered by the end of June 2019. According to udelv, these vehicles will be the world’s first ADVs for public road driving, and they will operate with safety drivers onboard until both companies and regulators deem them approved for safe driverless operation. Eventually, the vehicles, which are SAE L4 ADVs according to udelv, will cover thousands of miles of residential roads in what is expected to be one of the largest autonomous driving deployments in the world. Additionally, the companies have also secured an exclusive dealership agreement with udelv for additional fleet vans. These vehicles will be used to service other local merchants, residents, and potential pharmacies in underserved markets. To go along with the commission of driverless vehicles, udelv and Esperanza Real Estate Investments will establish operations in Oklahoma City and create a state-of-the-art tele-operations center for the remote control and monitoring of the fleet. “We believe we exist to elevate communities and relationships, always striving to be innovative and forward thinking with decisions on how to serve our community,” says Susan Binkowski, CEO of Esperanza and co-owner of the BFL Grocery Company. “As a leading provider of grocery in Oklahoma, we are thrilled to add this new technology that enhances our ability to deliver food with excellence, service, and convenience to Oklahoma families.”
This Week in the Unmanned Systems and Robotics World Drones were used to show thanks and appreciation for health care heroes, frontline workers and first responders on the evening of Friday, May 15 at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee. 140 coordinated drones lit the sky in formations depicting inspiring words and images. (Vanderbilt University) An unmanned 5G patrol vessel used for water quality monitoring recently completed its trial voyage in Beijing's Beihai Park. The vessel was equipped with sensors to collect real-time data, and HD cameras to detect the conditions of water areas that human eyes cannot reach. (China.org) A drone was recently used to locate a stranded kayaker in Connecticut. Once found, the kayaker was said to be “wet and cold,” but uninjured. (Connecticut Post) U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH) has introduced a bill that would authorize the U.S. Commerce Department to conduct a study on the impact UAS delivery services have on American businesses conducting interstate commerce. The Advancing Unmanned Delivery Services Act is part of a GOP-led legislative package of approximately 15 bills aimed at boosting America’s leadership in emerging technologies. (The Ripon Advance) A drone was successfully launched from a flying helicopter during a test conducted by the U.S. Army. The combination of helicopters with so-called “air launched effects” systems is expected to make piloted helicopters more effective and survivable on the battlefield, while pairing them with drones that can search for and then destroy enemy targets. (Popular Mechanics) After its plans to launch fast food delivery in a test on the campus of University College Dublin in mid-March were tabled due to the coronavirus pandemic, an Irish company called Manna instead began using its UAS to deliver medicine to elderly people in rural or isolated areas. The drone delivery tests are being conducted in the county of Offaly in Ireland’s midlands. (Forbes) During its Build developer conference, Microsoft announced that its new machine teaching service, Project Bonsai, is now in public preview. The company says that project Bonsai is the first block of a larger vision to help its customers build autonomous systems. (TechCrunch)
Elroy Air optimistic that its autonomous VTOL air cargo system will unlock the logistics potential of the sky
A company called Elroy Air that is developing an autonomous vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) air cargo system has closed a $9.2 million seed round of funding, according to VentureBeat. The company says that it is developing its autonomous VTOL air cargo system for three primary reasons. First, it believes “access to express shipping improves quality of life and economic opportunities for people, and should be available to everyone.” Second, it believes that “now is the moment in history when autonomous VTOL aircraft can be developed to expand the reach of air cargo at scale.” And finally, the company believes that its specialized team of aerospace engineers, industrial designers, computer scientists, supply chain experts and entrepreneurs will develop the “definitive air logistics systems of the future.” “At Elroy Air, we have set out to improve access to critical goods worldwide by expanding the reach of air cargo,” the company says in a blog post. “To do this we are developing safe, autonomous aircraft systems that can bypass challenging conditions on the ground such as poor roads, difficult terrain, oceans and fjords — to unlock the logistics potential of the sky.” Elroy Air says its autonomous aircraft can fly 24 hours a day, which allows shipments of goods to be delivered rapidly to any location, around the clock. According to Elroy Air, more than 70,000 people around the world lose their lives each year from the effects of natural disaster. The company also points out that between floods, fires, hurricanes, extreme temperatures and earthquakes, more than 569 million people were negatively impacted by natural disasters in 2016. “There are critical hours after a disaster event when casualties can be minimized simply by getting people the needed supplies rapidly. It is often difficult to transport essential goods — food, water, medical supplies — during these crucial moments,” the company explains. With this in mind, Elroy Air is building an autonomous end-to-end aerial delivery system optimized to minimize the risk to human lives and reduce transport times in disaster relief scenarios, as its vehicle will fly bulk goods on short timeframes to remote locations and populations in need. “We know that natural disasters are inevitable, but we believe we can help reduce the number of lives that are lost during these tragic moments,” the company says. Elroy Air says that its VTOL cargo aircraft systems expand the reach of air cargo because they are not slowed by traffic, terrain, or automotive speed limits. Additionally, their efficient hybrid gas-electric powertrain facilitates long-range flights, lower emissions than traditional aircraft, and zero reliance on expensive battery-charge infrastructure. Also, autonomy on the ground and in the air allows for expanded operational hours and minimal staffing requirements, with 24/7 delivery capabilities. “Building on the same powertrain and perception technology enabling today’s hybrid, electric, and autonomous vehicles, our vertical-takeoff-and-landing (VTOL) cargo transport systems can operate outside of airport infrastructure and they carry 500 lbs of cargo over 300 miles,” the company says. With a mission of improving the quality of life around the planet by expanding the reach of air cargo in a safe, efficient and autonomous way, Elroy Air says that it will be launching its first systems next year, with a small number of shippers in select locations around the world. “As we continue to grow each delivery will be a step closer to a better, more connected future,” the company says.
Speedbird Aero receives regulatory approval to operate two experimental drone delivery routes in Brazil
Speedbird Aero, a Latin American drone delivery company, has become the first company in Latin America to win regulatory approval for a drone delivery operation, as the company has received regulatory approval from Brazil's National Civil Aviation Agency, also known as ANAC, to operate two experimental drone delivery routes in Brazil. Speedbird Aero operates a proprietary delivery drone with an integrated ParaZero parachute recovery system. The company has partnered with a Latin American food delivery company called iFood to offer an on-demand food delivery service that combines drone delivery with other forms of last-mile transportation such as motorcycles, bicycles, scooters, and e-bikes. The approved drone delivery routes will link two iFood Hubs with a food court and condominium complex, and will greatly reduce ground transportation time typically required for deliveries. For the first delivery route, drones will pick up orders from the rooftop of a large shopping complex in São Paulo and transport them to a nearby iFood pickup hub. Couriers waiting at the hub will shuttle orders to their final destinations. Each delivery route will take the drones approximately two minutes to fly. For the second delivery route, drones will fly beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) to a secondary iFood pickup hub approximately 1.5 kilometers away. According to Speedbird Aero, this phase, which is expected to begin by December of this year, will enable a broader distribution footprint. “Our goal is to continue the development of unmanned aerial logistics in Brazil and Latin America with safety in mind,” says Samuel Salomão, Speedbird Aero's co-founder. Throughout the certification process, which took more than one year to complete, ANAC regulators assessed the safety management and risk mitigation planning aspects of Speedbird Aero's operations, which included a ParaZero autonomous parachute system for each delivery drone in Speedbird Aero's fleet. As part of the certification process, Speedbird Aero was required to perform six parachute deployments, including a final live parachute deployment in front of a team of ANAC officials on July 9. “All of these steps are part of a process that will culminate into a commercial product,” says Manoel Coelho, co-founder of Speedbird Aero.
On Oct. 10, Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMSUBPAC) and the University of Hawaii used a UAS to deliver supplies onto a submarine off the coast of Oahu, a U.S. island in the Central Pacific. Carrying a five-pound payload that included circuit cards, medical supplies, and food, the UAS took the payload to Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS Hawaii (SSN 776) while it was underway. “What started as an innovative idea has come to fruition as a potentially radical new submarine logistics delivery capability,” says Lt. Cmdr. Christopher Keithley, assigned to COMSUBPAC. “A large percentage of parts that are needed on submarines weigh less than five-pounds, so this capability could alleviate the need for boats to pull into ports for parts or medical supplies.” A year ago, the Commander, Submarine Force Innovation Lab (iLab) came up with the concept of using UAS to make deliveries. iLab and the University of Hawaii Applied Research Lab have spent the last year working to make this concept a reality. “We are already seeing the impact that this one idea can have on the entire fleet,” says Rear Adm. Blake Converse, commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. “The joint effort between the Sailors at COMSUBPAC and the University of Hawaii has resulted in delivering necessary supplies to submarines that can save time and money, allowing us to stay in the fight.” As a result of this idea, the Submarine Force’s first UAV squadron at CSP was created. To become proficient UAS pilots, and to develop the concept of converting a UAS and a submarine sail into a package delivery and receiving platform, submarine sailors stationed at Pearl Harbor volunteered to attend weekly training at Bellows Air Force Station in Waimanalo, Hawaii. “Members of University of Hawaii Applied Research Lab worked alongside COMSUBPAC Sailors to develop a “snag” pole and payload release mechanism from the drone, practicing the concept using the prototypes on the back of trucks and jeeps,” Keithley explains. “As the training progressed and the drone innovations became more reliable, the team was able to demonstrate the capability onto a small patrol boat out of Pearl Harbor.” The Oct. 10 delivery was conducted after final adjustments were made, and last minute training was performed. “The snag pole and drone delivery mechanisms performed perfectly as the payload of parts was safely delivered onboard the submarine, making history as the first ever drone delivery onboard an underway submarine,” Keithley says.
Students often wait anxiously for college admissions acceptance letters, but one university in Illinois has used a drone to give that process a modern twist. On Monday, Nov. 13, Romeoville, Illinois’ Lewis University used a UAS from its unmanned aircraft systems program to deliver college admissions acceptance letters to eight students at Romeoville High School. The delivery, which used a Spreading Wings S900 UAS, is believed to be the first of its kind in the United States. The Spreading Wings S900 UAS used to deliver college admissions acceptance letters to Romeoville High School students. Photo: Lewis University “Being the first delivery of this kind in the nation demonstrates how Lewis University is a leader in aviation education from the first moments of your Lewis University experience,” says Lewis University’s president, Dr. David Livingston. According to Jacob Reed, assistant professor of unmanned aircraft systems — and the pilot in charge for the UAS during the delivery —the idea to use a drone for this type of delivery came from Lewis University’s Senior Vice President of Enrollment, Ray Kennelly, who showed the UAS program example videos from other schools. Until Lewis University’s Nov. 13 flight, though, no flight of this extent had been achieved. “The idea had been explored for a few years, and it was nice to finally plan and execute the project to the level achieved,” Reed tells AUVSI. As the case with all drone flights, this one required a special amount of preparation and attention to detail, especially being the first of its kind. Planning for this flight began at the Aviation Department level, as routes, safety and regulations all had to be evaluated. Next, UAS students who are pursuing the major were approached to get their feedback, opinions and ideas on the flight. And last, but certainly not least, the UAS program went to the Village of Romeoville to get their help with logistics and planning for the flight. Between taking all proper precautions — including hand-flying the route to maintain visual line of sight of the UAS and to mitigate any risks during the delivery — everything worked in the program’s favor on the day of the flight, and the delivery of the acceptance letters went off without a hitch. “The flight worked out great and the weather and winds cooperated with us the entire morning,” Reed says. Students followed the Spreading Wings manual to build and wire all of the hardware and components of the UAS. Then as a class, they reviewed how to use the Flight Controller software to get the transmitter working with the UAS. The delivery was completed by raising the S900’s landing gear to drop a pallet containing the package, which the program 3-D printed in its lab. While Reed did not see the reaction of the Romeoville high school students when they saw the UAS, he was told that the students were “completely surprised, speechless, then extremely excited and enthusiastic.” “It is nice to showcase the innovation and progress of these platforms for the students and their parents,” Reed adds. Romeoville High School students receive their college admissions acceptance letters from Lewis University via drone. Photo: Lewis University Since the completion of this successful flight, a lot of students “both in and outside of Lewis” have approached the UAS program with inquiries, according to Reed. Local government officials from the surrounding areas have also approached the UAS program, and expressed interest in the program providing their departments with training on how to use this technology for different scenarios. “It is great to see the growth in our program and we already have more ideas to grow even further in the coming years,” Reed adds. Some of those ideas are already in the process of being executed, as the Lewis University UAS program is conducting several operations using unmanned systems. The UAS program is conducting research related to UAS impacting commercial airline traffic in flight, and the results of a recent study surrounding that research should be published soon, Reed says. The UAS program is also working with the FBI on multiple counterterrorism studies, and the program is moving into ground-based and maritime-based applications along with the aerial uses. According to Lewis University, innovation is nothing new for the Catholic university, as it says that since 1932, it has led the field of aviation education by preparing students from across the globe to succeed in the aviation industries. Students are offered a specialized experience at the university when it comes to aviation, thanks to an on-site airport (Lewis University Airport), experienced and industry-leading faculty, personalized learning, and degree programs. Lewis University says its aviation program is one of the most respected in the nation, thanks to a well-rounded business, management and liberal arts education. “Although Lewis is a relatively small school, we have always excelled in our aviation program,” Reed says. “Not only is the campus located on an airport, we also have professors who have experience with Midway and O’Hare airports as well as Air Traffic Control. Our university president, Dr. David Livingston, and the administration also recognizes the innovation which helps further push the program, faculty, and creativity of our students.” Lewis University’s UAS program would like to continue using the tools at its disposal to have a positive impact on the community, as it seeks to build and fosters new relationships to push the industry forward. “We strive to work with our community, local, and federal agencies to provide relevant research in the field of remotely piloted vehicles,” Reed says.
UC San Diego Health and partners to deliver medical products between hospitals and laboratories using UAS
To speed up the delivery of services and patient care currently managed through ground transport, UC San Diego Health will launch a pilot project in February to test using UAS to transport medical samples, supplies and documents between Jacobs Medical Center and Moores Cancer Center and the Center for Advanced Laboratory Medicine (CALM). A collaboration with UPS and Matternet, the program builds off the UPS and Matternet drone project that is currently taking place at WakeMed Health and Hospitals in Raleigh, North Carolina. “Currently, medical samples that must be transported between health care sites are carried by courier cars, which are naturally subject to the variabilities of traffic and other ground issues,” explains Matthew Jenusaitis, chief administrative officer for innovation and transformation at UC San Diego Health. “With drones, we want to demonstrate proof-of-concept for getting vital samples where they need to be for testing or assessment more quickly and simply. It’s another way to leverage emerging technologies in a way that can tangibly benefit our patients.” During the project, medical professionals at Jacobs Medical Center, located on the east health campus of UC San Diego in La Jolla, will pack payloads such as blood samples or documents into a secure container that attaches to one of Matternet’s M2 UAS. The UAS will then follow predetermined, low-risk flight paths, initially between Jacobs Medical Center and special landing sites at Moores Cancer Center, which is located less than a mile away and within visual line of sight under the FAA’s Part 107 rules, and then subsequently at CALM, which is near the Jacobs Medical Center. Expected to take just minutes, the flights will be monitored by remote operators. “Right now, most biological samples must travel between sites by courier car, within designated hours,” comments James Killeen, MD, clinical professor of emergency medicine and director of information technology services at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “That leaves the system vulnerable to the vagaries of road congestion, accidents, construction and more. Travel time can be slow and unpredictable. A drone can fly over such obstacles in a much more direct way, and take just a few minutes to cover the same distance.” After the city of San Diego was named one of nine lead participants in the FAA's UAS Integration Pilot Program, the FAA also granted UC San Diego approval to test using UAS for transporting lab specimens and pharmaceuticals throughout its health system.