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Project Spotlight: Open Drone Delivery

Moved by the slow time to receive medication, learn how this volunteer and his team were inspired to make a drone delivery system that is more efficient.

Written by: Andrew Bui

How it All Started

A few months ago, Naman Pushp, out of nowhere, fell. There was no warning, no existing condition. “I felt dizzy and lost consciousness for a second” Naman says “I was quite worried about this problem escalating, so I decided to get a prescription”. His medicine took over a week to arrive, but thankfully it was a one-time incident, and he recovered without any problems. But not everyone is as lucky as him, and a week is far too long for any important medication to arrive. An article from February of 2018 outlines this issue a bit further. To effectively combat this problem, the world needed a fast, reliable, and contactless delivery method. And that’s why they chose drones.

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Current VTOL design

The Challenge

As of now, the design is the team’s greatest challenge. Naman has said that a lot of time has been spent into researching the type of drone that would work best. However, in the end, the team ended up building their own drone from scratch because no drone they found fit their criteria, which is effectively delivering supplies over long distances, and also can be made easily and take off from basically anywhere in the world. The team started with a non-traditional hexacopter. For those who don’t know what a hexacopter is, an article from Yuneec International explains what a hexacopter is.

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Past Hexacopter design

But they soon learned that it was too bulky for long distances. The team decided to settle on a VTOL (Vertical TakeOff and Landing) design, however that doesn’t make the process any easier.

VTOL is a notoriously difficult technology. An article from Wired UK explains what this technology is. There is a limited amount available and none of them are delivery drones. VTOL is mostly split into three categories: there are military applications for a speedy takeoff, a “flying car” application, and the hobbyist applications. The team is looking into the hobbyist application, which is far more diverse and simpler in comparison. Learning from other projects, they are working on a tail-sitter design. Ironically though, most of the effort towards VTOL is put towards the military and flying car application, making it harder to find people and resources.

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VTOL Drone simulation, ran by Burhan Quaddoumi

The Solution

Unfortunately, the solution this team came up with is not perfect. But, in this case, perfect is the enemy of good. The team has realized that going for a solution that is perfectly defined from the beginning is just not practical. So instead, the team has begun the design with “rough dimensions and sizing based on our knowledge and research”, and the team is now working off of that to define other components and then use those to update the design in the iterative process. Again, this is not perfect, but the team thinks this is the faster approach to a working product, something especially important in these times.

VTOL Drone Simulation

Naman says that the team is “making progress, albeit slowly”. The problem right now is in getting the right components (i.e. motors, propellers), as no one on the team has any expertise in that, and by extension, the calculations can very easily get out of hand. According to Naman, “It’s a bit of a snowball effect though and it’s starting to take shape.” The team is also delegating other important tasks by forming a business and operations team to focus on location and logistics of drone flight, as that is arguably as complex as the design itself.

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Current Drone design.

How You Can Help

Currently, the project is being documented on hackaday, and the website is being regularly updated. The team welcomes any comment, and/or suggestions and anyone that wishes to take part in this project. This project is open source, so any use, and modification of this design is free to use as you please.

Want to volunteer?

As Project Open Drone progresses, they have been seeking more volunteers. Currently, the team needs these positions filled:

  • One more Engineer for FEA and CFD
  • 1-2 designers with experience designing Aerial Vehicles
  • 1-2 Electrical engineers, preferably with drone experience
  • UX/UI Designer

For more information, please contact: Naman Pushp

Contact the project through the Helpful Engineering Slack: project-open-drone-delivery

Want to learn more?

Learn more about this project at:   

The designs in this article are presented As-Is. The goal is to present designs that can foster further discussion and be utilized in countries that permit this product. These are not finalized designs and do not represent certification from any country. You accept responsibility and release Helpful Engineering from liability for the manufacture or use of this product. This design was created in response to the announcement on March 10, 2020, from the HHS.  Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) who issued a declaration pursuant to the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act

Link to Prep act: https://www.phe.gov/Preparedness/legal/prepact/Pages/default.aspx

 

ALL WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND WHATSOEVER, EXPRESS, IMPLIED AND STATUTORY, ARE HEREBY DISCLAIMED. ALL IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE ARE HEREBY DISCLAIMED. THIS DEVICE (INCLUDING ANY ACCESSORIES AND COMPONENTS) IS PRESENTED ‘AS IS.’

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