Drone Delivery and Oculus Rift, why not?

Drone delivery might still sound like science fiction, only it isn’t. A few months back we’ve learned about Amazon Prime Air. A new type of delivery system that aims to get packages into customers’ hands in 30 minutes or less using unmanned aerial vehicles. This should still take a few years as they advance the technology and wait for the necessary FAA rules and regulations. Here’s a short clip from a test flight:

DHL, UPS and the German Post DHL also experiment with drone delivery. Now a start up called QuiQui joins the club aiming to get drone delivery for medicine in San Francisco of the ground (pun intended). A big part of their plan is now possible due to a court case the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) lost which now makes it legal to fly drones; if you don’t let it carry heavy items or fly above 150 meters. 

QuQui plans on starting their service in the summer. A drone will fly (some 6 meters above the pavement) towards your location, sends a text message when it arrives and drops you package to the ground. Their plan is to deliver 24/7 and within a 15 minutes window (their pilot is focused on the area in SF called Mission). Since they don’t use any humans in the delivery process, they will only charge one dollar for delivery.

Fast and cheap is key here. And since drones don’t get tired or know about workday regulations, every company that deals with delivery and logistics would be crazy not to explore how drones can be integrated into their business model. Call it disruption, call it technological unemployment, to me the delivery business is one of those obvious cases were us humans won’t be of much value in the future. 

Drones delivering stuff also just sounds cool. We only need one thing to make it even cooler; first person drone control. Two students in Norway have build just that, using the Oculus Rift Virtual Reality headset. By fitting dual cameras to a DJI Phantom 2 gyrocopter, a research team has enabled “first-person” drone control. The drone operator directs the machine’s flight with a custom control unit, whilst the cameras respond to real-time movements of the headsets, allowing for stereoscopic, drone’s-eye vision.

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