Disposable Drones Make Light Work of Delivery, But What Happens Next?
Drone delivery of products is becoming more commonplace in today’s times. What takes the entire operation of doorstep delivery further is the development of a new type of drone constructed from plastic foam, plywood and some other inexpensive plastic parts, thus turning it into a disposable drone.
The drone created by DASH Systems can be used to deliver up to 20 kg. DASH calls this lightweight drone an unmanned aerial vehicle or glider. An integrated built-in GPS ensures accurate delivery by the drone, even in constricted spaces like courtyards or terraces.
The aim is to deliver at remote target areas that beyond the reach of other courier services due to inaccessibility. “Many times, we found that during times of crisis or humanitarian need, it’s very, very difficult to get supplies into remote regions,” said Joel Ifill, chief executive officer and co-founder of DASH Systems. “Couple that with reduced or destroyed infrastructure. Those are the areas and circumstances under which this system really shines,” said DASH Systems co-founder Joe Caravella.
“You can always fly an airplane overhead, so we help bridge that gap. Using our technology, you can throw a package out of an airplane and have it land right at the area of use,” Ifill said.
“There are a variety of parachute-type systems where you can drop things out of airplanes. We’re hoping to improve the whole operation, both with deploying it at the right time and then guiding the package to where it needs to be, to be more accurate than anything currently on the market,” added Caravella.
DASH claims it has developed the best platform that integrates aerospace engineering expertise with cutting edge UAV backbone. DASH Systems enables any cargo airplane to deliver a package directly on ground without the requirement of extensive logistics or infrastructure set up like airports, runways or landings. This reduces overhead costs to a large extent and ensures safe delivery to the most remote locations, after allits the package that lands not the plane.
With its disposable drone DASH Systems has turned every airplane in the world into a potential mobile drone launch platform, capable of delivering one to one thousand packages without ever landing or stopping. One 737-800 fitted with DASH delivery drones can service thousands of customers and cover thousands of square miles in a single day marking a breakthrough in humanitarian food and aid deliveries, life saving medicine and supplies to commercial cargo a reality. Caravella elaborated with VOA News:
This concept of disposability does away with several expensive factors involved in drone deliveries till date-like cost, complexity, regulations and performance limitations, weather, infrastructure, availability and safety ensuring safe, precise and cost effective air deliveries. There are certainly many applications to a system such as this: delivering supplies and medication to locations in times of humanitarian crisis for one. DASH were already granted permission by the FAA to provide assistance to Puerto Rico after the devastation of Hurricane Maria, generously donating time, expertise and systems.
However, at what environmental price? One cannot help but wonder at the impact of single use drones made of non-biodegradable materials. Here’s hoping DASH’s next move is to create disposable drones out of sustainable and degradable – or even completely disappearing – materials, such as those being developed via funds from the United States military’s experimental technology arm, DARPA. Their Vanishing Programmable Resources (VAPR) program describes an army of vanishing UAVs that make deliveries of supplies and then immediately vaporize. The funding deal, awarded to MORSE in 2016, is now culminating in an advanced research stage with the development of a vanishing material made of specially developed polymers. When exposed to heat or sunlight, they disintegrate into a clear liquid substance – so it’s an idea that is not all just hot air.
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