Analysis: Airbus’ Skyways delivery drone completes first flight demo (VIDEO)

Airbus’ unmanned drone delivery project, Skyways, has completed a successful demonstration flight in Singapore. A full-scale trial is pencilled in for later this year. 

For an aerospace giant with tens of billions of dollars in revenue to play with, it took a while for Airbus to get into the commercial drone sector – publicly, at least. Work on drone delivery concepts was well underway at the likes of Amazon and Google when Airbus launched the Skyways project back in February 2016.

Eager to make up for lost time, the Skyways platform has reached its first major milestone: a successful flight and delivery demonstration at the National University of Singapore.

Taking to the skies

The setting is important. Instead of trialling the technology in rural areas, Airbus is heading straight for the drone-delivery heartland. Its focus is on last-mile urban logistics, and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) has been a willing partner.

During the demo (see video below), the Skyways machine took off from a dedicated maintenance centre and landed on the roof of a parcel station. There, a parcel was loaded onto the drone using a robotic arm. The drone then took off and flew back to the maintenance centre to show off its automatic unloading capability.

Airbus’ experimental project was launched in Singapore, with the support of the CAAS, to explore the potential of urban drone delivery. The collaboration was extended in April 2017, when Singapore Post (SingPost) became the project’s logistics partner.

“Today’s flight demonstration paves the way positively to our local trial service launch in the coming months. It is the result of a very strong partnership among the stakeholders involved, especially with the close guidance and confidence from the CAAS,” said Alain Flourens, Airbus Helicopters’ executive VP of engineering and CTO.

“Safe and reliable urban air delivery is a reality not too distant into the future, and Airbus is certainly excited to be a forerunner in this endeavour.”

Read more: Airbus launches commercial drone service Airbus Aerial

Read more: Airbus and Italdesign unveil modular smart city transport

The Airbus advantage

Being an established name in aerospace has helped Airbus to trial its drone delivery technology where the action is. But key to the progress being made in Singapore is the city state’s willingness to embrace new technologies.

The importance of this cannot be overstated. Rigid regulations and a culture of fear and scepticism have already pushed Amazon Prime Air out of the US and into the UK. Add in the assistance of the National University of Singapore, and the Airbus project has been able to flourish in an ideal setting.

More trials will take place later this year to deliver packages between students and staff within the university campus, which is the size of 150 football fields.

“The Skyways project is an important innovation for the aviation industry,” said Kevin Shum, director general of CAAS. “We have been working closely with Airbus on the project, with an emphasis on co-developing systems and rules to ensure that such aircraft can operate in an urban environment safely and optimally.”

“This project will help to develop innovative rules to support the development of the unmanned aircraft industry in Singapore. We are pleased with the good progress that Skyways is making and look forward to deepening our partnership with Airbus”.

For NUS, the Skyways project is a chance to fulfil the university’s own vision of being a test bed for innovation.

“Project Skyways aligns with NUS’ vision of serving as a living lab to pilot innovative technologies and solutions,” said senior deputy president and provost, Professor Ho Teck Hua. “The NUS community is very excited to be the first in Singapore to experience this novel concept of parcel delivery by drones – an endeavour that could redefine urban logistics.

“Students from the NUS Faculty of Engineering also have the opportunity to gain valuable experience as interns with Airbus for this project. We look forward to working closely with Airbus, CAAS, and SingPost to carry out the campus-wide trial.”

There are several autonomous vehicle concepts in the works at Airbus. Skyways is currently under development alongside the Racer helicopter, the Vahana passenger drone, and the CityAirbus autonomous flying vehicle.

Internet of Business says

Supportive cultures and light-touch regulation are essential for drones and autonomous vehicles to succeed worldwide, establishing new markets and businesses.

In some nations, the aerospace authorities are known to be more conservative and to have the ears of government in suppressing unmanned flight, which hands the power to those that can take more risks. That said, many of the more conservative organisations are already managing overcrowded skies.

Despite these organisations’ worries, commercial drone delivery appears to be a matter of when, not if – along with full-scale cargo services and passenger transport. But the regulatory hurdles and technology challenges facing companies such as Amazon and Google remain significant.

Safety and security will be paramount. Cities are crowded in every direction, and autonomous, rotary-wing, battery powered devices are inherently dangerous and have multiple points of failure. Our MIT NanoMap story (link below) reveals that the technology is advancing rapidly, but a 98 percent no-crash rate is still not safe enough. We wouldn’t accept 98 per cent uptime from a cloud provider, so it’s clearly not acceptable for a drone that could kill someone.

Airbus benefits from its established aerospace reputation and the selection of Singapore as its testing ground. The closest comparison is Flytrex’s delivery service in Iceland, but Reykjavik can’t be compared to the world’s major cities in terms of scale. Elsewhere, there has been pushback to urban tests.

No doubt the full-scale trial of Skyways on the NUS campus later this year will be closely watched by Airbus’ competitors.

Read more: MIT’s NanoMap helps drones to navigate safely at high speed

Read more: EHANG passenger drone boasts successful manned test flights

The post Analysis: Airbus’ Skyways delivery drone completes first flight demo (VIDEO) appeared first on Internet of Business.

Internet of Business

Recode Daily: Amazon is coming for UPS and FedEx with its own delivery service for businesses

Plus, Apple sold more Apple Watches than the entire Swiss-watch industry in Q4, Chinese police are wearing facial-recognition glasses, and here’s what that opening ceremony drone display was supposed to look like.

You may have noticed that today’s Recode Daily newsletter arrived in your inbox a bit later than usual. That’s because Recode’s East Coast team of reporters and editors has flown west to join the rest of us today and tomorrow for Code Media in Huntington Beach, Calif. We’ll be back to our usual delivery time later this week.

Amazon is is launching a delivery service for businesses — getting ready to compete directly with UPS and FedEx. Shipping with Amazon, a.k.a. SWA, is expected to roll out in Los Angeles soon with third-party sellers that sell goods via its web site; Amazon plans to undercut the incumbent delivery services on price. [Laura Stevens / The Wall Street Journal]

Comcast may try to stop the Fox/Disney deal, by reviving its own bid for Fox. Comcast originally floated a price that was 15 percent more than the one Disney ended up paying for Fox. Fox said it took the Disney deal because it was more likely to be approved by regulators. Alternate theory: Comcast doesn’t really want Fox — it wants Disney to give up a piece of Fox, like its stake in Sky, to make it go away. [Amol Sharma, Shalini Ramachandran / Wall Street Journal]

Apple shipped about eight million Apple Watches in the holiday quarter — more than the entire Swiss watch industry sold last quarter. The comparison shows the accelerating sales growth of Apple’s smartwatch platform. [Kif Leswing / Business Insider]

Nearly half of American online shoppers have monthly paid subscriptions to streaming media services like Spotify and Hulu. And 15 percent have subscribed to at least one e-commerce delivery service like Blue Apron or Dollar Shave Club in the past year. [Rani Molla / Recode]

Here are two deep dives that will keep you busy until Code Mediastarts this afternoon: Wired interviewed more than 80 people with intimate knowledge of Facebook, including 50+ former and current employees, about the company’s “two years in hell,” as learned the myriad ways its platform can be used for ill. And Bloomberg Business week goes inside North Korea’s hacker army —the regime in Pyongyang has sent hundreds of programmers to other countries. Their mission: Make money by any means necessary.[Nick Thompson and Fred Vogelstein / Wired]

Top stories from Recode

Keep track of each country’s Olympic medal count with this tool.

Where in the world are the Olympic winners from?

Uber’s latest valuation: $ 72 billion.

That’s the new claim in the settlement agreement between Uber and Waymo.

Facebook lost around 2.8 million U.S. users under 25 last year. 2018 won’t be much better.

That’s according to research firm eMarketer.

Phil Libin, the co-founder of Evernote, is backing an AI chatbot to help people report workplace abuse.

Three in four workplace harassment incidents go unreported.

What Facebook (and many, many others) gets wrong about VR.

On the latest episode of Recode Decode, Stanford’s “VR guy” says “there’s a reason people aren’t playing video games for 10 hours a day in VR.”

This is cool

Here’s what Intel’s 1,218-drone light show for the Winter Olympics opening ceremony was supposed to look like.


Recode – All

WSJ: Amazon to launch its own delivery service in Los Angeles with plans to expand it to other US cities later this year

Amazon is no stranger to dipping its toe in different stages of the shipping and delivery process. It already uses local couriers to make two-hour deliveries in select US cities, offers consumers the option to allow for in-home deliveries, and operates its own fleet of cargo jet planes and trucks. The Wall Street Journal is now reporting that Amazon plans to launch a delivery service of its own in Los Angeles in the coming weeks with plans for a wider rollout later this year.

Read More

WSJ: Amazon to launch its own delivery service in Los Angeles with plans to expand it to other US cities later this year was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

Android Police – Android news, reviews, apps, games, phones, tablets

Deal Alert: Get $100 iTunes / App Store Gift Card For $85 [Limited Time Only – Instant Digital Email Delivery]

Here’s an iTunes and App Store gift card deal you don’t want to miss. Get $ 100 credit for $ 85. Limited time only.

[ Continue reading this over at RedmondPie.com ]

Redmond Pie