Europe canes America in drone delivery race

One hundred and thirty deliveries! Yep 130, not just delivered but done automatically over a three month period in all sorts of weather.

Well done DHL, I wonder whats inside?

Views: 2656

Comment by Gary McCray on May 11, 2016 at 1:18pm

Right now, tilt rotors/wings are gaining a lot of press, but the next few years is going to sort out what sticks and what doesn't.

I suspect tilt rotors will not become a common platform and that multicopters and fixed wings for specific applications will do fine, but also that Helis will stage a very strong comeback.

The simple fact is a good heli with a good size rotor is hard to beat for efficiency or control-ability and it is way more efficient (more flight time) than any multicopter.

Basically a tilt wing/rotor is generally way more complicated than a heli and more likely to break and a heli is a lot more stable controllable in booth flight and hover / land circumstances.

It seems likely to me that the tilt wing/rotor platform will only hold together for a very narrow set of applications, if at all.

The Navy isn't all that thrilled with the Osprey either.

Clearly this was a very well funded EU effort and it does seem to establish some significant capabilities and potentially practical uses.

Delivering odd supplies / emergency stuff to hard to get to locations seems like an excellent application for this capability.

Delivering my case of beer to my front door - probably not now and not ever.



Comment by Vladimir "Lazy" Khudyakov on May 11, 2016 at 1:25pm


The only videos I have seen were not very impressive.

Bad vids it does not mean bad autopilot. :))) All that is in Ardupilot you will find in the Paparazzi, and much more :))

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on May 11, 2016 at 2:50pm

Vladimir, I didn't say it was bad.  But I have asked repeatedly for some sort of video which shows good performance, and I have just not seen anything.  The last one I watched, it was a poor quality hover, indoors in a cage.  This is the type of video I would like to see.  It's uncut, this is not just the best highlights, and it's in real world conditions.:

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on May 11, 2016 at 2:54pm

Gary, I think this airplane design could actually have pretty good performance in this size class.  I'm not sure it will scale up well (well, nothing makes sense for large scale electric) but this could work.

I would like to know what the actual range is though.  I don't see the point if the range is the same as a quadcopter.

In larger sizes, this thing is going to be more complicated than a helicopter.

If you look at the full-scale world, you see that the tilt wing only makes sense for a very limited use case.  The case when you MUST have VTOL capability, and must have more range and speed than a helicopter can deliver.  Most uses cases, they use a regular airplane with prepared runways at both ends.  Or they use a helicopter, and just deal with the shorter range and slower speed (shorter missions, or mid-air refueling).

I have yet to see a use case for a UAV where a gas powered heli wouldn't have the range or speed required for the mission.

Comment by Ben on May 11, 2016 at 3:39pm

At least it's fun to see the small steps towards any practical use in real world. It's a bit like living at the times of the first planes and seeing some concepts (such as biplanes) come and then disappear.

This added to the fact that the annoucements are done by major companies and leave hobbyist community unimpressed because with the same amount of money they could probably do the same plus buying a yacht.

Comment by Gary McCray on May 11, 2016 at 5:41pm


Maybe with the yacht we could get far enough offshore to where we could actually do this legally.

@ Rob,

I think either a gas or electric heli would be able to perform the tasks that DHL has undertaken more efficiently and with considerably better all weather reliability and performance and greater range and or payload than they have demonstrated.

And with considerably less investment, certainly so if they used one of those nifty Procyon helicopters from Autonomous Systems.



Comment by Ouroboros on May 12, 2016 at 1:55am

The droneport "parcel station" with snow resistant clamshell protected helipad (with wind direction turning launch turntable!) is a nice touch though. Is anyone developing the ArduCopter equivalent of an opensource hardware droneport (reference design for helipad with a robot arm for dealing with cargo and charging)?

For cargo drones though, would a setup resembling a quadplane, but rather than a fifth prop, have the forward and rear props tilt (so tractor/pusher tiltrotor) be attractive, if it uses the same variable pitch (but not cyclic) prop arrangement?

Speaking of possibly unrealistic large size but maybe realistic small size VTOL's, did anyone see the hubbub over Lilliam Aviation? They apparently have a demo drone prototype working with ESA. Flavors of Aurora's LightningStrike, but with retractable telescopic forward boxfan canards.

Comment by Jiro Hattori on May 12, 2016 at 4:50am

Is it EDF or something ?

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on May 12, 2016 at 5:31am

Interesting concept with that Lilium thing.  But... I don't get it.  How do they get CG in airplane mode with the wing that far back?

Comment by JB on May 12, 2016 at 6:48am

@ Rob

Wing body and lots of lead acid batteries in the back? ;-)

I agree the DHL thing is very poor if it can only do 8.4km...quadplanes are way better already.

Rob have you see this? :


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