Starship Technologies, an Estonia-based startup created by two Skype co-founders, Janus Friis and Ahti Heinla, is slated to begin testing its autonomous delivery robot to bring groceries and restaurant takeout to Washington, D.C., homes and businesses this fall. It’s the first U.S. municipality to approve ground-based robots to roll around on city sidewalks.Starship hopes to solve the “last mile” problem –– the work of getting packages from the fulfillment center directly to people’s homes — currently done by humans. It’s a problem Amazon wants to solve with drones, but the FAA’s rules bar drones from flying around humans without an operator in line of sight. But with ground-based delivery, Starship’s founders say, there’s less that can go wrong.
Basically the only advantage a flying delivery drone has over a delivery drone on wheels is that it can travel in a straight line and theoretically will deal with fewer obstacles in the way.
Now compare this to the numerous serious downsides to flying:
- Flying is significantly more energy-intensive, which should increase cost and limit range.
- Flying drones will never be able to carry as much as a drone on wheels.
- Flying is dramatically more dangerous. If a 40 pound cooler on wheels ran into you, it might leave a bruise; if a 40 pound drone drops 50 feet out of the sky on you, that could kill you.
- This means flying drones will be more expensive to insure.
- It also means the risk of a big PR disaster is bigger.
- Failure in flying is more catastrophic. If battery in a wheeled drone dies, it stops in the middle of the sidewalk; if that happens to a flying drone, it could fall out of the sky.
- So flying drones should likely require more maintenance checks.
- As the article points out, the added danger of flying means such drones will likely face more regulatory issues.
A drone is a flying unmanned vehicle, remotely controlled, and suited for use for practical tasks. The use of drones is already extensive, and steadily increasing. They are used both by military services, civil authorities and private companies.Follow me dronesReplyDelete