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Drone delivery study says drones aren’t efficient enough

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drone delivery study performed by Thomas Kirschstein at the University Halle-Wittenberg has found that drones are often less efficient than today’s delivery methods. The drone delivery was compared with both diesel-powered and electric-powered delivery vans.

A study done by Thomas Kirschstein which took place at the University Halle-Wittenberg has pointed out that delivery drones are on a similar level with diesel-powered delivery vans in terms of efficiency when completing deliveries in densely populated areas, such as a city.

The reason is that drones consume so much power taking-off, landing, and hovering while delivering the goods to the drop-off point. A big part of this is also that delivery drones, in most cases, are only capable of carrying a single package per flight. A delivery van, in comparison, is capable of carrying over 100 packages. The efficiency of the van goes up even more if it uses electric propulsion.

Why electric vans win

Kirschstein shared the following on why drones aren’t as efficient as an electric-delivery van with a human delivering packages.

“Parcel carriers, for example, can stop and deliver several parcels on foot if multiple customers are receiving deliveries in one street. This is not possible for drones, as they can only deliver one package at a time. This increases their energy consumption, sometimes drastically.”

A big takeaway from the study would suggest that an alternative drone design for highly populated areas is needed. A drone that is capable of carrying multiple packages at once might make deliveries as possible. It might be best to use drones only for long-distance deliveries and leave deliveries in the cities to electric vans. The exception might be for urgent or time-sensitive deliveries, such as medical supplies.

What are your thoughts on delivery drones? Do you think the need for speedy delivery is worth the environmental negatives? Let us know in the comments below.

Photo: Wing Aviation

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Drones

Drone footage from Beirut shows scale of explosion devastation

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Some drone footage has emerged from Beirut. It provides a glimpse of the pervasive devastation caused by the explosion earlier this week.

It’s difficult to imagine the damage that this week’s explosion has wrought on Beirut. A massive shock and explosion decimated the Lebanese capital. It killed more than 150 people and injured more than 4,000. Many other people are still missing, and presumed dead. And the city itself? Pummeled. The shock wave did far more than take out windows — it caused extensive structural damage. It tore off roofs, destroyed balconies, and forced an estimated 300,000 people from their homes.

Ammonium nitrate – 2,750 tons of it – caused the devastating explosion. And, if you haven’t seen the moment it all happened, this is what it looked like:

Shockwave

The shockwave is what caused most of the damage.

Everything changed in an instant

Assessing the damage

That blast caused a nearly inconceivable amount of damage — all in an instant. People who saw the blast coming had barely a second to react (even less, for those closest to ground zero).

Now, drone video posted by ABC News gives us an even more intimate look at the damage. And, as expected, it’s extensive. Some 300,000 people cannot return to their homes at the moment. Here’s why:

An apocalyptic scene, captured by drone

Long rebuilding process

The headlines are already starting to fade. And in the days and weeks to come, the world’s news media will move on from this disaster. But this tragedy will continue for many people.

The scene, as captured by drone

Lucky

It’s kind of hard to imagine saying anyone is “lucky” when this has just happened. But video continues to emerge from cellphones and security cameras showing incredible moments immediately before, after and during the blast. This one shows people scrambling to get back inside a store. Thankfully, none of these people were injured, though they were all undoubtedly traumatized:

That was a very close call

The ammonium nitrate had been stored at the dock for years. Information is now surfacing that fireworks were stored in the very same building, which truly was a recipe for disaster. Lebanese authorities have pledged to punish those responsible, and several people have already been questioned or taken into custody.

Many charitable organizations are raising funds for the recovery and rebuilding effort. We encourage you to consider donating to a trusted charity.

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Leaked photo: Is this a new DJI FPV racing drone?

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A leaked picture emerged August 7 that has the internet abuzz. It’s a heavily pixelated image of a DJI-branded drone that appears to be a marked departure. But that is it?

The picture surfaced on the Twitter account of @OsitaLV — who has previously been a solid source with DJI leaks. This post shows what’s clearly a quad-style drone, but features have been electronically obscured and there’s not a whole lot left to look at. What is visible, however, is pretty intriguing. It has features that are already leading to speculation online that this could be an FPV-style racing drone. Let’s examine what we can see, starting with a nice big image:

DJI Racing drone?
Is this a DJI FPV Racing Drone?

Let’s break it down. First, this thing is dirty.

Mud

Ha! It’s not what we’d usually point to in a leaked photograph, but we think it’s a first. It really does appear that there is mud or dirt on this drone. Why? Well, it was either picked up during a crash or put there deliberately. The latter seems unlikely, especially when you examine the black feature on top of the drone. It looks very much like rubber, which would be a handy thing to put on a drone that you expect might be crashing a lot. Score one for a ruggedized machine.

This is one dirty drone. Note the DJI logo…

Camera

That’s clearly not a standard gimbal setup — which, of course, would be way too fragile for an FPV setup. Instead, this looks more along the lines of a protected action camera. The Osmo would be a good fit here, we think. Have a look for yourself — this does have a slightly FPV feel.

We suspect there’s an action cam tucked in there…

Vroom, vroom

And then there’s just that tiny, tantalizing glimpse of a motor. We can see that it’s inverted — mounted upside-down compared with the Mavic line. It’s also beefier — you can tell from the diameter. It would make sense that a manufacturer might invert the motor for added protection during a crash.

Show us more!

Logo

And then, of course, there’s the DJI logo underneath some of that dirt.

It appears to be DJI…

Our $0.02

We’ve previously written that it didn’t make a whole lot of sense for DJI to manufacture an FPV-style racing drone. Crashing and constant upgrading is part of the game, and it’s difficult to imagine that DJI would want to pursue a style of drone where warranty claims could potentially be a nightmare.

On the other hand, if it’s a specific type of FPV racer — intended more as an introduction to the sport — that would seem more likely. DJI has the engineering chops to make something fairly bulletproof, and there’s clearly a lucrative FPV drone market out there that DJI likely wouldn’t mind tapping into. There’s likely a substantial customer base that just wants a Ready-to-Fly racer. Those people are unlikely to want to dissemble and tweak every component in their drone and would be quite happy to simply don goggles and race.

And of course, DJI’s amazing FPV goggles are the bomb. Selling a drone like this would lead to more goggle sales, assuming the systems are compatible. (And cmon — would DJI make it non-compatible? Unlikely.)

We contacted one of our friends who’s an authority on the racing scene. His take?

“Looks like a racer.”

Timing

The leaked photo comes at an interesting time. DJI was in the news this week because there was an allegation of problems with the Android version of its Pilot software. We covered that and DJI’s fairly thorough refutation. But undoubtedly a leak that takes attention away from that issue would not be unwelcome.

In fact, the same thing happened fairly recently when there were allegations against the Android version of the DJI GO 4 app. What happened? Well, a Mavic 3 image leaked.

Lucky timing, I guess.

Would you buy a racing drone from DJI? Even if you couldn’t modify it? Let us know in the comments below.

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Robot sensor market estimated to surpass $4 billion by 2026

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A recent study performed by market research firm Global Market Insights found that the robotic sensor market is expected to be worth over $4 billion by 2026. This is in part thanks to the cost reductions we have seen over the recent years of components and products.

AI and IoT has taken off like never before in recent years, forcing more of these sensors to be manufactured to support the ever-growing demand. The current sensor market is split into force/torque, tactile, ultrasonic, laser range, vision, and proximity sensors.

In the future

Over the next few years, it is estimated that ultrasonic sensors will grow at 11% compound annual growth (CAGR). This will lower the cost of the sensors compared to other and will see wider adoption in smart factories for sensing and pre-sensing purposes.

While AI and IoT have added to the market share of these sensors, the big users are expected to be factories that are converting into smart factories. These smart factories are using sensors on robotics to replace humans and do repetitive jobs more efficiently than their human counterparts. The highest user of these sensors will likely continue to be the manufacturing sector that currently makes up around 35% of it.

Key players

The study has also outlined the key players who build and offer the sensors. This includes Keyence, Rockwell Automation, FANUC, Honeywell International Inc., EPSON, ifm electronic GmbH, OptoForce, FUTEK Advanced Sensor Technology, OMRON, and Infineon Technologies.

These companies all have a focus on developing new products within the sensor world. An example of this is ATI Industrial Automation. In September 2019, they announced the development for force/torque sensing systems for robots, allowing them to know the amount of force applied at a high accuracy and resolution so the computers know more about the surroundings.

You can read the full report via this link, which takes a deeper look at the sensor market and what the main drivers of growth are and will be in the coming years.

Photo: Global Market Insights

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