Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Delivery

DHL's Parcelcopter can carry up to 1.2 kg (2.6 lb) of medication

Although big players such as Amazon, Google and the United Arab Emirates have all announced plans to launch drone-based delivery services, it looks like DHL Parcel is about to beat them to it. This week, the courier company announced that it will begin using its unmanned DHL Parcelcopter to deliver pharmaceuticals from the German seaside village of Norddeich, across 12 km (7.5 miles) of the North Sea, to the small island of Juist.  Read More

A new algorithm developed at MIT enables delivery drones to better preserve their health i...

The prospect of delivery drones brings with it a few notable issues. Beyond visions of colliding rotor blades and unsolicited package drops lies another problem: the huge amount of computational power needed to take into account real world uncertainties, such as strong winds, limited battery life and navigational errors, in order to provide a reliable delivery service. This has been the focus of new study from MIT, with a team of researchers devising a new algorithm said to massively reduce the level of computation required, enabling the drone to monitor its "health" in real time.  Read More

The VertiKUL drone in hovering mode

When something is sent to you by airmail, it travels in a fast and relatively fuel-efficient fixed-wing aircraft, not a fuel-guzzling helicopter. Nonetheless, when we hear about the possibility of drones being used to deliver items within cities, multirotor-style aircraft are almost always what's proposed – while they're good at maneuvering in urban spaces, they're essentially just little unmanned helicopters. With that in mind, a group of three engineering students from Belgium's KU Leuven (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven) have created a prototype delivery drone known as VertiKUL, which combines the best features of both types of aircraft.  Read More

The Bizmo II, from Terra Motors, with large delivery box on the back and a smaller box on ...

The Bizmo II from Terra Motors is a small, light, electric commercial scooter with generous carrying capacity that gets a 150-km (93 mi) range out of its 3.17 kWh battery. Set to launch in Japan, the company hopes the Bizmo II will be a game changer in the urban delivery market.  Read More

The HorseFly octocopter could charge its battery and pick up packages from a mobile delive...

When Amazon announced its plan to use drones for home deliveries, a lot of people were quick to point out the huge logistical challenges involved. Among those is the fact that a multicopter's limited battery range would make it rather difficult for just one or two Amazon warehouses to serve an entire city. A team from the University of Cincinnati and AMP Electric Vehicles, however, may have a solution. They've created an octocopter that could make short flights from a traveling delivery van, using that van as a mobile charging station and package depot.  Read More

The Deliver electric van

With swooping curves, a bulbous windshield, and prominent pod-like headlights, the "Deliver" van built by Liberty Electric Cars is certainly a distinctive-looking vehicle. But with a carrying capacity of 700 kg (1,540 lb), a quoted range of more than 100 km (62 m), and a top speed claimed to be in the order of 100 km/h (62 mph), it seems like a practical one, too.  Read More

Volvo's 'roam delivery' system sends couriers to cars, not houses

It's kind of ironic that couriers usually attempt home deliveries during the day, while most people are away at work. Not only does this mean that those people don't get their packages as soon as they could, but it also means the couriers have to go to the time and trouble of making a second attempt on another day. Volvo wants to change that, by letting drivers use their parked cars as mobile delivery points.  Read More

A quadcopter running the algorithm is able to remain in control, even after losing one pro...

Whether it's for Amazon-purchased goods, text books or defibrillators, unmanned multicopters are increasingly being considered for use as delivery vehicles. Given that this would involve their flying over heavily-populated areas, however, many people are rightly concerned about the aircraft malfunctioning and crashing down onto someone below. That's why researchers at ETH Zurich have created a control algorithm that allows any quadcopter to keep flying, even if it loses multiple motors or propellers.  Read More

According to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the drones will deliver packages to customers within 3...

As early as 2015, your Amazon purchases could be dropped at your door within 30 minutes courtesy of unmanned aerial drones. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos revealed plans for the delivery service dubbed Prime Air (an extension of Amazon Prime which guarantees two-day shipping) in a 60 Minutes interview on Sunday night.  Read More

iStrategyLabs has created the PiePal, a large button that connects to a Raspberry Pi and a...

Have you ever craved pizza so strongly that you wished you could press a button and have one show up automatically? Clearly the creative minds at iStrategyLabs have run into this problem more than once, since that's exactly what they made recently. Rather than wading through options on a pizza shop's website, the PiePal allows users to push a single button to immediately order one or more pizzas to be delivered ASAP.  Read More

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