DroneDek mailbox designed to securely accept deliveries-by-drone
While there are numerous questions about the logistics of drone delivery technology, here's one that not everyone thinks of: What if no one is home when the drone shows up? Well, the DroneDek system is designed with that scenario in mind.
Currently being developed by an Indianapolis-based startup of the same name, DroneDek is centered around a big "smart" mailbox that could be securely anchored to the ground, or to a user's home. It would be part of a larger system in which clients would use a dedicated app to order products from businesses utilizing the technology.
As a package-carrying delivery drone approached the client's house, it would home in on the exact GPS coordinates being transmitted by the DroneDek box itself. Upon reaching that location, the hovering aircraft would then transmit an encrypted security code to the box, which would slide open its motorized top loading door in response.
The drone would then lower the package into the box, using a retractable tether. Once the package was in place and the tether was out of the way, the loading door would close and lock. And while the drone could simply turn around and fly back to its base, it could also land on the box to wirelessly recharge its battery if necessary.
The DroneDek box would proceed to scan a barcode or QR code on the package, in order to identify the order. It would then contact the user, letting them know that the order had arrived. If they wished, that person could actually take an online look at the package, via an internet-connected camera and light inside the box.
Additionally, if the package were something that needed to be kept warm (like food) or cold (like a medication), the DroneDek box would automatically do so until the item was picked up.
Taking things just a little further, plans also call for the box to scan packages for traces of explosives or biohazards, alerting the user – and even summoning emergency services – if any are found. It would also sterilize the packages, killing any viruses or bacteria on their surface.
Assuming that no one sent the user a bomb or anthrax spores, they could subsequently remove their package from the box via a door in the back. That door would only unlock via an integrated biometric scanner, a numerical keypad, or a code transmitted by the app.
The DroneDek box could also serve as a plain ol' mailbox, with letters or small packages being deposited through a hatch in the front. Regular ground-based couriers could additionally place packages in it, in a method similar to that used by the drones.
The system is set to be available for use starting next year, at a yet-to-be-announced price. It's illustrated in the following video.