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Government Transportation United States Hardware

USPS Shortlists 'HorseFly' Octocopter Drone Delivery Service 67

An anonymous reader writes: The likes of GM and Nissan are keeping unusual company in the bidding war to build and deliver the next generation of delivery vehicles for the U.S. Postal Service. Workhorse Group Inc. have made it to the 16-company shortlist with their octocopter drone delivery system, developed by the University of Cincinnati College of Engineering and Applied Science. The self-guiding UAV 'HorseFly' has multiple hardware and software redundancy systems and launches from its special host van 'WorkHorse' to get the parcel the final hurdle to the door. The drone can recharge itself wirelessly in two minutes at base, and calculates its own routes from the van to the destination door.
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USPS Shortlists 'HorseFly' Octocopter Drone Delivery Service

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  • by rossdee ( 243626 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @08:35AM (#49518837)

    the customers (snail mail spammers) pay for this?

  • by wbr1 ( 2538558 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @08:43AM (#49518895)
    Or dead...

    http://www.nydailynews.com/new... [nydailynews.com]

    CAUTION: Please wait until noise has receded before checking your mail.

    • Don't turn this into a competition to Google for deaths by postal truck!

    • Yes, because the octocopter they plan to use is completely like the Trex 700N 3D aerobatic rc helicopter that killed Pirozek...

      The Trex 700N is an aerobatic flying lawnmower, with no shield or guard to prevent you from hitting the blade. They are extremely dangerous and are not toys.

      The octocopter's blades are much smaller and have way less momentum. Unless the octocopter hit you in the eye or fell from an extreme height, there's virtually no way to cause permanent damage with the octocopter. Many
  • but will (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @08:44AM (#49518917)

    But will it be able to deliver mail to the White house?

  • >> Workhorse Group Inc....their octocopter drone delivery system, developed by the University of Cincinnati College of Engineering and Applied Science.

    Can someone explain this part? On the surface it just looks like "public education creates, private company profits."

  • by Quarters ( 18322 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @09:13AM (#49519227)

    That thing is freaking huge. Each copter arm has to be at least 4' - 5' long. Factor in the roof overhang over my front door, and the landscaping, and the closest this thing could get a package to my doorstep would be about 8' away, but that puts it right into another landscaped area. So, my packages will either be somewhere in my front yard or on my driveway. All of this just so a postal worker doesn't have to get up out of a seat and walk the package all the way to my door?

    PROGRESS!

    • by funwithBSD ( 245349 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @09:22AM (#49519357)

      That is why it is equipped with a small catapult.

    • by boristdog ( 133725 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @09:40AM (#49519553)

      You are probably not the target market for this since you live in a densely populated area.

      I live in an area where the spacing between houses averages over a quarter-mile in any direction. I would love for a drone to deliver my packages instead of the lazy delivery driver just saying "address doesn't exist" or "cannot find address" because they don't want to drive down my road.

      It might annoy my donkey, though, but I'll risk coming home to an annoyed donkey in exchange for actually getting my packages.

      • by unrtst ( 777550 )

        I live in an area where the spacing between houses averages over a quarter-mile in any direction. I would love for a drone to deliver my packages instead of the lazy delivery driver just saying "address doesn't exist" or "cannot find address" because they don't want to drive down my road.

        These things are cool and all that, but I don't see them being good for your case either. Just how far do you think they can travel with a big package? And how many of those deliveries can they make before their battery is dead? And how would that be more efficient than just driving that 1/4 mile? Your mailman just needs replaced.

        On the other side of the scale, in tightly packed downtown areas, they're also virtually useless. You've got a bunch of people so close that it's a 10 - 20 foot walk between multi-

      • I think you are right there.

        In rural areas, the house might be a significant distance from the road. I know the family farmhouse is at least 1/4 mile from the road, which means packages must be picked up at the post office, or at the UPS store in town.

        Sending a drone to get even close to the house would be easy, and unlike in a urban/sub-urban area there is a lot of area that is not casually visible from the road.

        I can see a marker of some sort to give the drone an idea of where you want it to drop things o

      • by Kohath ( 38547 )

        How much to you think it costs to employ a rural delivery driver? How many packages to you think rural people receive? (Exclude heavy or bulky packages, anything delivered in bad weather, anything that requires a signature, etc.) How much do you think autonomous flying drones (big enough to carry a substantial package) cost?

        Think about it. How long will it take the drone to pay for itself?

    • I'd like to know how they charge that many lipo's wirelessly in 2 minutes. My fucking 2s lipos, nowhere near what this thing would require, take 20 minutes for a 1000 mAh pack.
      • by Holi ( 250190 )
        And if they are using rapid charge technology, how long do they expect those batteries to last?
    • The drone in that photo is closer than the truck... It's called perspective. Look into it.

      Get it? Cause, perspective?

    • Nah, it just flies as low as it safely can and drops the package on your sidewalk - what's one more impact in the standard package-mangling regime?

    • Im 90% sure that image is a mockup. The link to Federal times has a much more realistic image [gannett-cdn.com].

      The Federal Times also notes that the drone is 10 lbs, which further cements my belief that the massive drone in the picture is a mockup or test device.

  • Everybody's least favourite insect. Terrific branding!
  • When my dog barked at the UPS guy he reached into his pocket and handed the dog a biscuit; dog ran off happy and the UPS guy never broke stride.

    I'm not sure would happen if one of those things tried to deliver a package.

  • I'd love to see a city/neighborhood install pnumantic tubes [wikipedia.org] for instant delivery. Its a 19th century technology that is proven and feasable but is strangely seldom used. Just laydown 1/3m (12 in) plastic piping, have machine addressable containers, and install electric-mechanical sorters/routers at each node that can read the addresses and kick the container into the correct junction. One the receving end, the receiver would put the empty container back into the system and it would be routed back to the
  • I want to see proof. Photos of a hovering drone says nothing nowadays. ...and especially from a penny stock company [otcmarkets.com] that appears to be teaming up with a university to push gov't SBAS contracts. Oh, the gov't cash cow!

    Really, even Google's '8 guys surrounding a drone' video doesn't show autonomous capability--though their cars are a different story (i.e. real).

    Nowadays, I see 9 or 10 companies touting fully autonomous flight, redundancy and delivery, RTF, ready to go, 1hr flight, 1min charge--I want to see a

  • This thing fails a number of the FAA's requirements. While it *is* line of sight, it is not being controlled by a certified pilot. How has the college been flying it?

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