Drones

New world record set for longest drone delivery

A HQ-40 UAV, like the one pictured, has flown 97 miles (156 km) to deliver a package, setting a new record for the longest drone delivery in the US
A HQ-40 UAV, like the one pictured, has flown 97 miles (156 km) to deliver a package, setting a new record for the longest drone delivery in the US
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A HQ-40 UAV, like the one pictured, has flown 97 miles (156 km) to deliver a package, setting a new record for the longest drone delivery in the US
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A HQ-40 UAV, like the one pictured, has flown 97 miles (156 km) to deliver a package, setting a new record for the longest drone delivery in the US

A future where drones drop off your online orders is another step closer this week after a new record was set for the world's longest drone delivery. On May 5, a fixed-wing HQ-40 UAV carried a package more than 97 miles (156 km), under the watchful eye of the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS).

Drones from companies like Amazon, 7-Eleven, Domino's and UPS have already taken to the skies to deliver packages and pizza to customers, but those trips are usually short, last-mile trials. The record-breaking UAV journey covered 97 miles from a location in central Texas to carry a pneumatic part to the city of Austin.

Controlled remotely through a cellular communication link, the drone followed a predetermined flight path through the National Airspace System (NAS). Unfortunately, current regulations in the US prohibit drones being flown outside line of sight, so a team of observers had to be dotted along the route to make sure the aircraft remained visible at all times.

"This was the most challenging, logistically-intensive, and longest package delivery demonstration recorded to date using cellular technology in the NAS, and allowed us the opportunity to demonstrate innovative capability – a demonstration necessity for the UAS industry," says Chris Walach, Director of the Nevada UAS Test Site. "Drone package delivery in an urban and remote environment is the wave of the future, and Nevada is leading and helping to grow this major commercial endeavor. These package delivery milestones prove that new UAS technology enables the safe integration of UAS into the NAS for long-distance and urban package deliveries."

Source: NIAS

2 comments
Bob Flint
That's great but the legislation "line of sight" defeats the whole purpose of drones, by having humans stationed along the way, or leaf-frogging along as an escort...but were the humans under the direct flight path? Another NO-NO..
MD
Bob: Flying over people as far as legislation is concerned is a sticky point... The simplified rules appear make it a "no-no", but there may be a legislative qualification. eg Australia states (I am not as familiar with US legislation as I am with Australian): "1. A person must not operate a model aircraft over a populous area at a height less than the height from which, if any of its components fails, it would be able to clear the area (meaning that all systems really must be redundant to allow this, note: "ANY" even includes the wing failing therefore it must fail-safe)." and " (2) Subject to sub-regulations (3) and (4), somebody who is operating a powered model aircraft must ensure that, while the model aircraft is in flight, or is landing or taking off, it stays at least 30 metres away from anyone not directly associated with the operation of model aircraft." That distance is not specified as lateral distance but absolute distance. Note the FAA can issue waivers to any regulations pursuant to the appropriate submission and fees are paid, on a case by case basis. Yep it gets complicated.