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General-purpose drone delivery service that you can hail via an app

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Darko Savic
Darko Savic Nov 14, 2021
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A general-purpose drone delivery service that anyone can use to have their package sent off. A hybrid of Uber and postal service.
Delivery drones are not new. They are owned by a specific company and used for their deliveries. The novelty this service proposes is the creation of a universal drone delivery service that handles anyone's shipments just like a postal service. It can be hailed like Uber and you pay per distance.
  • Instant delivery of food, groceries, or personal packages.
  • Save people's time and energy by robotizing errands.
How it works
Pickup/delivery spots
Any person or business that has some real estate with a clear view of the sky can build a pickup/delivery spot according to the drone service's standards. This would be a modern mailbox.
Every pickup/delivery spot has to be registered and approved. It gets a unique ID.
Businesses that expect a large number of pickups or deliveries can build multiple spots sufficiently spaced apart to allow simultaneous approach of several drones.
Communal and shared spots
Public pickup/delivery spots are placed everywhere througout the city. In addition to public spots, people can opt to let their private spots be used by others.
Each spot:
  • is connected to the internet (5G, landline, Wifi)
  • has a weight scale built into it
  • has a clear view of the sky
  • continously checks and broadcasts its GPS location
The pickup/delivery process
The drones never land. At pickup, they lower a mechanism to grip the standard container. At delivery they release the gripping mechanism as soon as the container touches the floor. They can stack multiple containers on top of each other.
Every package has an ID. Every drone has an ID. Every pickup/delivery spot has an ID. Every flight has an ID.
The drone doesn't depart to pick the package up unless the pickup spot with the right ID signals that the package with the right ID is ready to be picked up and the delivery spot with the right ID is expecting delivery. When everything is in place, the drone takes off and estimated completion times are updated on the pickup spot, delivery spot, sender's app, recipient's app, and the drone operator's system.
When someone wants to send something without the recipient's prior knowledge, the drone doesn't depart until the recipient confirms that they will be expecting the shipment around the estimated time and take full responsibility for it.
The central control system assigns nearby drones to take care of multiple deliveries if those are on the way. For example if a delivery spot is nearby another pickup spot, the same drone takes both flights.
All shipments have a maximum weight and have to be packaged in standard drone containers. The containers are affordable, made of waterproof cardboard. They are reusable until damaged enough to make a shipment unsafe.
People pay per kilometer/mile. The person who pays for the shipment can select the urgency level. The higher the fee, the faster a drone will come to pick up the shipment. In the app you can see the estimated pickup/delivery time based on the fee. You can pull the slider up or down to modify this setting.
The drones automatically recharge on various rooftop charges througout the city.
Anyone with a suitable/seucre location can build a charging pad on their rooftop and earn money when random drones land to recharge themselves. The charging spot has to be approved by the drone service, secure, and monitored.
Use case scenarios
  • You order food via an app and opt to have it delivered by a drone. Assign a nearby delivery spot. The restaurant prepares your food and assigns a pickup spot. The drone takes off, collects the shipment and delivers it to the delivery spot.
  • Send anything to anyone via the same process as long as the goods are in the standard container and not over weight.
  • Send your shipment worldwide by having a drone pick it up and drop it off at the postal service, that then forwards it internationally via standard routes. First and last mile handled by drones.
Creative contributions

An alternative to cardboard boxes: Drone comes with a box of its own

Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni Nov 15, 2021
Although cheap, users need to buy the cardboard boxes to hail the drone. If you run out of boxes during an emergency, you may not be able to use the service. Therefore, it would be better if a percentage of drones came with boxes of their own. The box could be made of a light metal, such as tin or aluminum, and have a password-protected door. After availing the service, the sender and receiver receive an automated password on their app. The sender uses the password to open the door and place the items in the box. To retrieve the items, the receiver enters the same password.
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Sound pollution and general mess in the air

Povilas S
Povilas S Nov 16, 2021
I like the vision of drones delivering parcels, but if such service became as popular as uber there would be a lot of mess in the air because of many drones constantly buzzing around in the city. Is there something that can be done to avoid/reduce this?
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic3 years ago
More drones in the air mean fewer cars on the streets.
Instead of everyone having their own drone landing pad, there could be communal pads next to a storage area. You could walk over when you expect a delivery or you could have the package stored in your locker box. This would condense the drone traffic to some areas and leave the rest less noisy.
Having the landing pads on rooftops of high-rise buildings would be great for reducing noise on the ground.
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Povilas S
Povilas S3 years ago
Darko Savic Good points. Also, to make drones as quiet as possible their propeller technology should maximize focus on that aspect. Maybe in a more distant future the technology could shift from propellers towards something else, possibly even hovering devices. However, the view of the sky would still be obstructed by frequent drone (or a different type of flying device) movement over the rooftops.
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