Drones

Two Italian heavy-lift drones deliver 52 kg of cargo in Turin

Two Italian heavy-lift drones ...
The FlyingBasket FB3 heavy lift drone stayed mainly over a river as it made its 7-km delivery round-trip
The FlyingBasket FB3 heavy lift drone stayed mainly over a river as it made its 7-km delivery round-trip
View 3 Images
The FlyingBasket FB3 heavy lift drone stayed mainly over a river as it made its 7-km delivery round-trip
1/3
The FlyingBasket FB3 heavy lift drone stayed mainly over a river as it made its 7-km delivery round-trip
The FB3 drone weighs 70 kg unladen, and is capable of carrying an impressive 100-kg payload
2/3
The FB3 drone weighs 70 kg unladen, and is capable of carrying an impressive 100-kg payload
One of the FB3 drones used an internal cargo compartment
3/3
One of the FB3 drones used an internal cargo compartment
View gallery - 3 images

Despite the obvious potential of autonomous commercial drone deliveries, these services are taking an agonizingly long time to hit the mainstream. The issue is mainly a regulatory one; the technology's been more or less ready for years, but authorities are nervous to unleash swarms of UAVs over populated areas, even if the alternative is unleashing swarms of motorcycles and electric delivery bikes onto the streets. If safety's the issue here, you do have to wonder which option has the worst stats.

Either way, there are a number of trial operations going on, such as Wing's very popular service in Queensland, Australia, and last week, Italian company FlyingBasket staged its first urban heavy-lift transport flight with a pair of impressively large deliveries in Torino (Turin).

Partnering with Aerospace/Defense company Leonardo and the Italian postal service, FlyingBasket deployed two of its beefy FB3 drones, each carrying some 26 kg (57 lb) of cargo, from the postal co-ordination center to a destination some 3.9 km (2.4 miles) away, after which the drones returned. As impressive as that payload is, it's just over a quarter of the 100 kg (220 lb) the FB3 is capable of carrying.

The FB3 drone weighs 70 kg unladen, and is capable of carrying an impressive 100-kg payload
The FB3 drone weighs 70 kg unladen, and is capable of carrying an impressive 100-kg payload

To ensure the safety of everyone except local kayakers, the drones were flown mainly over the Stura di Lanzo river. One carried its load in an internal compartment, the other in a sling hung on a hook, meaning it can lower the payload on a cable and drop it off without ever needing to land.

The Italian aviation authority, ENAC, authorized the mission. It's not the first commercial drone delivery in Europe – Wing's operation in Helsinki, for example, already lets you airdrop yourself lunch and a coffee, and other operations are slowly beginning to open up. The large payload, though, makes it clear just how handy these things will be in logistical operations beyond direct-to-customer deliveries.

One gets the sense that when these services get the green light to start full-scale operations, they'll have an instant and transformative impact. Short-range food deliveries will be faster than ever before, and possibly cheaper. Delivery jobs will be put under extreme pressure, removing a lot of vans, small trucks, motorcycles and ebikes from the roads. The buzzing sound of small propellers will become a familiar urban lullaby, and long spells of bad weather will cause boxes to pile up at logistics centers. It'll certainly be an interesting transition.

Source: FlyingBasket

View gallery - 3 images
8 comments
8 comments
PaleDale
We really dont want drone deliveries to go main stream... It will be an ugly noisy mess and people will fast regret it when sky swarming with them. We used to get complaints when flying our racing drones 400+ meters from the closest house. People will soon get sick of the non stop buzzing noise, even the new "quiet" Wing drones that fly in my area (Canberra, Australia) are not that quiet. Anyway its not financially viable (yet), Amazon gave up on it as did another company. These services should be reserved for useful things like delivering medical supplies to hard to reach areas.
Rustgecko
This technology carrying heavy weights, will always been one squashed person away from being banned.
guzmanchinky
I love drones, and I'm a big believer in new tech and getting vehicles off the roads. I don't think they will be falling out of the sky. That said I do find the sound of drones annoying, and multiple drones every day carrying heavy loads is going to be really annoying.
bwana4swahili
Glad to see drones starting to remove delivery vehicles from the streets and roads. Their time has finally come!!
Robt
For these to become viable and ubiquitous, two issues need to be solved:
Noise will have to be reduced to a level that is accepted by people living under or near their flight path
Safety in the event of a crash - likely mandated rotor shrouds plus, given that whole drone parachutes don’t work at very low levels, some kind of airbag system that prevents serious injury in the event a person is hit
eirobotix
No way that FB3 drone can carry 100 kg payload with all the necessary safety overheads in place - not with the propulsion architecture & octocopter configuration the have selected. 26 kg is a fair payload weight & *maybe* they could double with the FB3 as shown that but no more unless there are serious caveats on range & endurance which make it an unrealistic system for the real world.

Also the lack of video always makes one suspicious... Not doubting the mission wasn't completed but what did it look like in the air? Was it rock solid or wayward flying? Making these big industrial multirotors work on all conditions is a serious engineering feat which very few have yet cracked.
ljaques
"The buzzing sound of small propellers will become a familiar urban lullaby" URBAN LULLABY MY ARSE.
Drones capable of lifting 250 pounds will have enough blade surface and speed to be =quite= loud.
Drones will have their Outback niches, but NIMBY, unless it's delivering my Ivermectin.
Rustgecko
There is in fact a YouTube video of this thing working. The video isn't that great and has been cut, so it may not be real, but it appears to show this drone carrying a type of deer. The hunting fraternity often have their deer flown out by copter. This could be a cost saving over a helicopter in an environment where technical failure doesn't squash anyone.