Cargo-dropping delivery system integrated into purpose-built drone
It was just last year that we heard about A2Z Drone Delivery's RDS1 system, which lets third-party delivery drones drop cargo to customers on a long tether. Well, the technology has now been incorporated into a custom-designed multicopter drone.
To recap our previous coverage, the initial RDS1 (Rapid Delivery System 1) kit consists of a motorized reel of Kevlar cord, at the end of which is an elastic fabric pouch that can hold a payload weighing up to 2 kg (4.4 lb).
Once the host drone reaches its destination, it hovers at an altitude of 150 ft (46 m) and releases the brake on the reel. This causes the pouch to freefall through the air, although the brake is gently reapplied before that pouch actually hits the ground, slowing it to a stop. This functionality is made possible by a LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) sensor on the drone, which measures exactly how far the aircraft is from the ground.
Once the customer retrieves their package, the pouch is reeled back up to the drone. The system is designed to keep members of the public away from the noise and dangerous spinning propellers of the aircraft, plus it allows drones to deliver their loads more efficiently, since they don't have to waste time and energy maneuvering down past tree branches or other obstacles.
In its original form, RDS1 was designed to be installed on a DJI Matrice 600 Pro hexacopter. Now, the system is part of A2Z's new RDSX octocopter. While it still works on the same principle, the drone incorporates two reel/cargo box units, allowing it to make two 2-kg deliveries (or one delivery of two boxes) per mission.
It has a reported battery range of about 15 km (9 miles) if carrying two loads, or 30 km (18 mi) if carrying just one. Two sets of batteries are included, which can be quickly swapped out at the base station. Additionally, the drone's propeller arms can be folded in when it's not in use, essentially turning it into a 0.8 m-tall by 1.3 m-wide cube (2.6 by 4.3 ft).
Should the copter experience a power failure or otherwise get into a dicey situation, it can deploy a safety parachute plus it can jettison its payload. And while it's able to make deliveries autonomously, dual cameras allow remotely located operators to fly it manually, plus they can take manual control of the cargo box drops.
The RDSX can be seen in action, in the video below.
Source: A2Z Drone Delivery
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