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Delivery drone

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Title: Delivery drone  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Exploratory engineering, 3D printing, Amazon Prime Air, Google X, Louis B. Rosenberg
Collection: Emerging Technologies, Logistics, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Delivery drone

In December 2013, the DHL parcel service subsidiary of Deutsche Post AG tested a "microdrones md4-1000" for delivery of medicine.

A delivery drone, also known as a parcelcopter, is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) utilized to transport packages, food or other goods.


  • Legislation 1
  • In healthcare 2
  • Smuggling 3
    • Drug smuggling 3.1
    • Prison smuggling 3.2
  • Food 4
  • Other examples 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7


In the United States initial attempts at commercial use of UAVs, such as the Tacocopter company for food delivery, were blocked by FAA regulation.[1] As of 2015, delivering of packages with drones in the United States is not permitted.[2] On the 13th March 2015, in Sheffield, FPS Distribution completed the first commercial delivery using a UAV.

In healthcare

The RQ-7 Shadow is capable of delivering a 20 lb (9.1 kg) "Quick-MEDS" canister to front-line troops.

UAVs can transport medicines and vaccines, and retrieve medical samples, into and out of remote or otherwise inaccessible regions.[3] "Ambulance drones" rapidly deliver defibrillators in the crucial few minutes after cardiac arrests, and include livestream communication capability allowing paramedics to remotely observe and instruct on-scene individuals in how to use the defibrillators.[4]

In July 2015, the FAA approved the first such use of a drone within the United States, to deliver medicine to a rural Virginia medical clinic in a program called "Let's Fly Wisely."[5]


Drug smuggling

Drug cartels have used UAVs to transport contraband, sometimes using GPS-guided UAVs.[6]

Prison smuggling

From 2013 and 2015, UAVs were observed delivering items into prisons on at least four occasions in the United States while four separate but similar incidents occurred in Ireland, Britain, Australia and Canada as well. Though not a popular way of smuggling items into prisons, corrections officials state that some individuals are beginning to experiment with UAVs.[7]

In November 2013, four people in

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  33. ^ Kerr, Simon (11 February 2014) UAE to develop fleet of drones to deliver public services, The Financial Times, World News, Retrieved 12 February 2014
  34. ^ Sleiman, Mirna (10 February 2014) Aerial ID card renewal: UAE to use drones for government services Reuters, Retrieved 12 February 2014
  35. ^ FPS Distribution Press Release (13th March 2015) First UK Commercial Delivery with Drone
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See also

  • Matternet is a Silicon Valley startup developing small UAVs for the delivery of lightweight goods. It had its origins in 2011 out of Singularity University, based at the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, CA.[16][17][18] Their transportation solution comprises small UAVs able to carry up to 1 kilogram goods over distances of up to 20 kilometers on a battery charge.[19] The UAVs are connected to a Cloud Software that aggregates weather, terrain and airspace data, and creates geo-fenced aerial routes for safe flight. The system is controlled by a smartphone app. It's been reported that Matternet is also developing automatic landing stations, where the UAVs would swap batteries to extend their range.[20] They have announced a public launch of the first UAV for transportation in Q1 of 2015.[21] Their website reports that Matternet is creating "The ‘Apple II’ of the drone industry: the most easy to use, desirable and safest personal flying vehicle you have ever experienced."[22][23][24]
  • Amazon Prime Air - founder Jeff Bezos' December 2013 announcement that Amazon was planning rapid delivery of lightweight commercial products using UAVs was met with skepticism, with perceived obstacles including federal and state regulatory approval, public safety, reliability, individual privacy, operator training and certification, security (hacking), payload thievery, and logistical challenges.[25] In July 2014 it was revealed Amazon was working on its 8th and 9th drone prototypes, some that could fly 50 miles per hour and carry 5-pound packages, and had applied to the FAA to test them.[26]
  • Google revealed in August 2014 it had been testing UAVs in Australia for two years. The Google X program known as "Project Wing" aims to produce drones that can deliver not only products sold via e-commerce, but larger delivery items[27]
  • USPS has been testing delivery systems [28] with HorseFly Drones. FedEx is reported to be testing integration of drone delivery with their existing logistics[29] model.
  • In December 2013, in a research project of Deutsche Post AG subsidiary DHL, a sub-kilogram quantity of medicine was delivered via a prototype Microdrones “parcelcopter,” raising speculation that disaster relief may be the first place the company will use the technology.[30][31]
  • DHL Parcelcopter already in use in Germany.[32]
  • In February 2014, the prime minister and cabinet affairs minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced that the UAE planned to launch a fleet of UAVs for civilian purposes.[33] Plans were for the UAVs to use fingerprint and eye-recognition systems to deliver official documents such as passports, ID cards and licenses, and supply emergency services at accidents. A battery-powered prototype four rotor UAV about half a meter across was displayed in Dubai.[34]
  • UK based FPS Distribution[35] and Switzerland's Swiss Post are both developing[36] drone delivery services for wide scale use.
  • In December 2014, French mail services company La Poste unveiled experimental[37] delivery drone project.
  • In February 2015, Hangzhou based e-commerce provider Ali Baba started[38] delivery drone services around select cities in China.
  • In March 2015, Shenzhen based SF Express started[39] providing delivery services with Xaircraft drones in China.
  • In May 2015, CJ Express initiates[40] delivery with drone services in South Korea.

Other examples

An independent British franchise of Domino's Pizza tested a remote-controlled drone, called DomiCopter, to deliver pizzas. It was developed by a joint effort of U.K. drone specialist AeroSight, Big Communications and creative agency T + Biscuits. A short footage video was released in June 2013.[15]

The Tacocopter is a taco delivery concept utilizing a smartphone app to order drone-delivered tacos in San Francisco area. It was created by MIT graduate Star Simpson and its website went live in July 2011, garnering the public and the media attention.[13] The revelation that it didn't exist as a delivery system or app led to it being labelled a hoax.[13][14]


Between 2014 and 2015, at two prisons in South Carolina, items such as drugs and cell phones were flown into the area by UAVs with authorities and one prison not knowing how many deliveries were successful before gaining the attention of authorities.[7]

In 2014 a quadcopter crashed into an exercise yard of Wheatfield Prison, Dublin.[10][11][12] The quadcopter collided with wires designed to prevent helicopters landing to aid escapes, causing it to crash.[10][11][12] A package containing drugs hung from the quadcopter and was seized by prisoners before prison staff could get to it.[10][11][12] The damaged quadcopter was handed over to an Garda Síochána.[10][11][12]

[9][8] The suspects were found with "probably about one or two pounds of tobacco rolled up".[9][8]

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