The delivery of articles using drones is a new mission for many drone developers – and a topic in a newly published patent application that is named ‘Material Handling Solutions For Drones’ and submitted by a dozen authors.
The Structure of a Drone that Would Carry and Handle Different Articles
Basically, the new patent outlines the proposed structure of a drone with its propeller for generating lift and an article containment area for containing an article that would be picked-up and then carried by a drone.
Here, the floor of the article containment area will comprise of a dynamic support surface for supporting the article to moving in, out and through the article containment area. The dynamic support surface in this case may be a conveyor belt that would form the floor of the article containment area.
Loading, Retention and Unloading Articles to and From a Drone
Obviously, drones carrying articles is not a problem that needs a lot of resolving in the long-run. What the actual problem is – and what is covered in this patent application – is the exact loading, retention and unloading of articles onto and from a drone.
The patent illustrates the drones as UAVs with overhead grippers that secure a payload – with a clear need for a more secure, efficient and effective method for loading, retaining and unloading payload.
With a drone that has dynamic support surface for carrying an article that supports loading and unloading from the drone, the surface forms a floor of an article containment area. All of the features and aspects of the invention are described in more detail in the description of the patent, the appended claims and the accompanied drawings.
The Benefits and Challenges of Article-Carrying Drones
We all know the benefits from electric-powered drones. They are more energy efficient and produce less greenhouse gas emissions compared to many other delivery methods such as diesel powered vans. Right now, around a quarter of all the transportation emissions come from medium and heavy-duty trucks – which is why drones could be in the forefront of a new revolution, carrying articles and handling various solutions.
This is what the patent outlines indeed, even though it is more focused on the actual build of such (article-carrying) drone. The only challenge that remains right now is the battery technology – which is constantly limiting the distance that drones can travel. However, there are a lot of researchers and engineers that don’t see this as a major problem – mostly through the concept of drones traveling to different stops before reaching their final destination.