Peer-to-peer Pegasus drone allows pilots to take deliveries into their own hands
Planned drone delivery services from big names like Amazon are a ways off yet, but an American startup has a peer-to-peer drone that it hopes will beat them out of the gate. Pegasus is Hylio's personal delivery drone with a four mile range (6.4 km) and 2.5 pound (1.1 kg) maximum payload.
The six-motor UAV can be controlled with a smartphone app to setup delivery to a user-defined destination, in a similar way to the UK-based Bizzby drone that was trialed in 2014. An included cargo bay that attaches to the underside of the Pegasus transports whatever small items need to be sent across town.
Pegasus uses GPS to navigate to its destination and can fly up to 35 minutes per charge of its 12,000 mAh lithum-polymer battery. The drone is constructed with carbon fiber and aerospace grade aluminum components. In addition to the smartphone app, it can be flown manually via a controller based on a PX4 Flight Stack. Some other key specs include water resistance and the ability to fly in winds of 40 miles per hour (64 kph).
While its makers say that Pegasus is ready to fly, it is important to note that depending on where you intend to use it there could be some rules to contend with. Regulations for drones vary from country to country and even on the local level in places, but most markets currently have some kind of limitations.
In the United States where Hylio based, regulators are moving towards slowly relaxing rules on drones, but at the moment Pegasus would have to be operated in daylight with a clear line of sight at all times (using an FPV video camera doesn't count and the operator also can not be in a moving vehicle). It also can't be flown over anyone not involved in the delivery.
It clearly reduces the usefulness of a delivery drone if you have to keep an eye on the thing the whole time, but the Federal Aviation Administration in the United States is currently working towards accommodating these types of applications for drones.
"In the near future I hope the Pegasus and other drones will continue to prove that they are safe and incredibly useful and the regulations in the (United) States will relax accordingly," writes Arthur Erickson, an engineer with Hylio. "Also, there are several countries with different UAS regulations and we are not restricting the Pegasus to just the United States."
Pegasus still has a ways to go before making it to consumers, so it's possible those rules will be relaxed by the time it's actually in the wild. Hylio is taking pre-orders now for a cost of US$1,000 and plans to launch a crowdfunding campaign in October. As with any company using this method to launch a product, we urge a little extra caution and diligence in checking them out before plunking down your cash.
You can see the Pegasus in action in the promotional video below: