High-Speed Robot Arm Hands Off Package to Delivery Drone

IEEE Spectrum

Urban delivery drones have their work cut out for them. We’re not really sure whether the whole business model for urban delivery by drone will ultimately make sense, but for it to have a chance at working, drones will certainly benefit from being as energy efficient and time efficient as possible. The biggest waste of time and energy happens during pickup and delivery, where the drone is hovering rather than moving. Hovering is necessary since these drones may be often delivering things (like food and beverages) that need to be kept mostly upright and not delivered by a parachute or something.

If you were imagining the ideal drone delivery system, though, it would involve drones flying about at full speed, somehow picking up and delivering items safely without ever having to slow down. The pinpoint accuracy required by something like this isn’t something that we’re likely to see on a drone anytime soon, but what if we instead did all of that hard work on the ground, using a high speed vision system and robot arm to attach a package to a drone as it flies past? The Ishikawa Group Laboratory at the University of Tokyo has already made it happen.

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