Drone Deliveries; The Robot Uprising

As our world becomes more and more automated; even our postal services may begin to start rapidly changing , as your parcels may soon be delivering themselves. Welcome to the robot uprising.

Cinema fans of the likes of Skynet or HAL can relax however, as the ‘uprising’ is rather more of a brave new world, where our lives can be made better through technology, specifically autonomous drones. Drones by definition are an unmanned aircraft or ship that can navigate autonomously,without human control or beyond line of sight”  (dictionary.com), and whilst most people may think of the military applications of land and air drones at the mention of the word, drones have also existed in the home and public for many years, and in the imagined utopias of science fiction for many more.

Whilst mechanical devices have existed since at least 270BC and automata existing since 3rd century; the modern term ‘robot’ however wasn’t coined and popularised until 1920, in the Karel Čapek play R.U.R (Rossum’s Universal Robots). Now whilst we may not have the perfect robotic manservant in every home yet, we have had self guided drones available for our homes commercially since the late 90s – most notably the humble robot vacuum cleaner. The first  of the automated vacuum cleaners was the Trilobite which was released in 1997 by Electrolux,  however it wasn’t until 2002 with the Roomba developed by iRobot that the automated cleaner became widely popularised. Since the humble beginnings in the 90s, a wide variety of home and commercial autonomous drones have have increased in their population, from robot lawnmowers to window cleaners; and now, the latest drone to receive a huge boom in popularity in the commercial market is the huge variety of small RC controlled fixed and rotary wing aircraft.

The greatest in demand is the quadcopter; an often very cost effective and efficient way to create a flight capable device via the use of four of more rotors, and can come in sizes ranging from being as small as a child’s palm, to being large enough to carry a human sized payload . These often relatively inexpensive UAVs have become colloquially known and marketed to the public as ‘drones’ whether or not they have the capability of autonomous flight. Whilst the often mobile device controlled toy quadcopters can provide hours of entertainment for young and old, the larger and more complex drones have a wide variety of applications for professional and/or commercial use. The ever increasing payload capacity and flight stability means that gyro-stabilised 4K HD cameras can be mounted to the underbelly of the drone, allowing for both amateur and professional filmmakers to achieve fluid smooth and crystal clear aerial shots without the use of more traditional and expensive methods such as manned helicopters with camera rigs. Spectacular shots have already been shared over the years, such as recent footage of an active volcano in Iceland, and popular television series such as MythBusters on the Discovery Channel have even started using drone footage to create a more dynamic experience.

Another fairly recent development in the latest uses for large payload drones has been adopted by companies of the likes of Amazon and DHL – even pizza chains – for delivery, which some have dubbed ‘ParcelCopters’.  Whilst these initiatives have struggled to get off the ground in the Western markets, most notably drone services in the USA have suffered from setbacks due to regulations and FAA restrictions. Services in China and South Korea have already begun delivery operations in select cities this year. Fortunately,  Australian efforts have gained traction, as Australia Post intends to start trials of drone-based delivery services in 2016, in conjunction with Melbourne University.

For the end user looking to get started in drone technology, the JB Hi Fi store at the all new Eastland Shopping Centre in Ringwood has a range of Drones and replacement parts available. (PC Medic also advises that you fly responsibly, with a handy guide available here and a brief UK made safety video which can be found here). As always, if you have any questions or concerns about the tech in your life, feel free to send a call or email our way.