Drone delivery system drops packages from 150 feet – on a tether

Drone delivery system drops pa...
A DJI Matrice 600 Pro drone, equipped with the RDS1 system
A DJI Matrice 600 Pro drone, equipped with the RDS1 system
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A closer look at the RDS1 reel system
A closer look at the RDS1 reel system
A DJI Matrice 600 Pro drone, equipped with the RDS1 system
A DJI Matrice 600 Pro drone, equipped with the RDS1 system

Many people don't like the thought of delivery drones buzzing up to their doorstep, with their propellers whirling dangerously close. The RDS1 setup was designed with that in mind, as it drops packages – in free-fall – but doesn't let them hit the ground.

Created by Los Angeles-based company A2Z Drone Delivery, the RDS1 (Rapid Delivery System 1) incorporates a remotely piloted DJI Matrice 600 Pro hexacopter drone that's equipped with a motorized reel of Kevlar cord. At the end of that tether is an elastic fabric pouch that can hold a payload weighing up to 2 kg (4.4 lb).

When the drone reaches its destination, it remains hovering at an altitude of 150 ft (46 m). It then releases the brake on its tether reel, allowing the payload pouch to freely fall through the air. Shortly before that pouch reaches the ground, however, the reel brake is gently reapplied, slowing the payload's descent 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.

A closer look at the RDS1 reel system
A closer look at the RDS1 reel system

After the client retrieves their package, the now-empty pouch is reeled back up to the copter. If needed, the client can also place a package of their own in the pouch, for delivery to another address. The drone then continues on its way.

The system is intended not only to spare clients from the noise and potential danger of a low-hovering drone, but it also keeps the drone from having to waste time and battery power by maneuvering its way around obstacles such as tree branches and power lines. RDS1's free-fall component is likewise intended to save time and power, as compared to setups in which the reel's motor is used to slowly lower the payload to its recipient.

Source: A2Z Drone Delivery

4-pound weight falling freely from 10 stories up. No chance something like that could go wrong, or that someone could step into the drop zone after the package is released. (A family friend accidentally killed someone with a pair of shoes from only 4 floors up.) Seems that using the motor as a generator and recapturing the energy of a swift-but-not-lethal descent might be the thing.
Four pounds is about like dropping a brick so it could be lethal. Any wind (some places are always windy) would severely complicate things.
What could go wrong?

1) And how cluttered - and noisy - will the airspace around our homes become?
2) So the recipient must be available to retrieve the package?
3) Not clear from the story or photo, will the drone have a camera? And how eager will we be to have camera drones hovering over our homes?

Aside: ‘can’t wait for municipalities to realize they can use drones to invade our properties for whatever purpose they like. At least on the ground, our property is private.

Dan Lewis
I get to do my broken repeating record imitation again -

I'm not going to take much of this drone service development seriously until I see protective wicker prop cages around the props.
When they start becoming regular, I'll starting taking real notice.
Warren Yake
Cool story Ben.
Come On commentors ! Take stock that these inventors/ developers saw stuff you never did. Nothing good happens in a petrie dish filled with fear & premature criticism. SUggest something. Dont harp on the first negtivity-that -never-happens that you can find. BTW you need to abandon the car because it never overcame its dangerous qualities in 60 years.Only now that this quality of invention is allowed.