PRE2015 3 Groep2 week1

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The idea and State of the Art

Drones can take goods that are ordered from the storage to somebodies house. The delivery is quick and orders can be handled a lot faster. This way, delivery companies can handle more orders at a higher rate. But people also get the items they have ordered really quick, which helps the satisfaction. We will distinguish two cases, in the first case drones that are used in urban areas, need to be navigated by a drone pilot, for safety reasons, since autonomous flying is not yet that advanced to safely navigate through crowded urban areas. The second case is where drones can potentially fly autonomously in rural areas or less urban areas. In both cases the drone can autonomously execute the landing when a landing zone is insight that is not obstructed.

They say that autonomous flying is not the main problem of technology anymore, some companies already want to carry out their autonomous drone in the near future [1]. Those companies however, are using less urban areas (our second case) for testing and we are curious about how their drones are going to hold in our first case. Drones need to be more reliable, they still have a tendency to crash and run into objects. Some experiments, for example from MIT, are getting better at avoiding object autonomously [2], but this problem is still big because of unexpected events that asks the drone to react very quick. Energy consumption could also be a problem [3]. For long flights the drones need large batteries, but bigger batteries also means less space for cargo.

Another problem with delivery drones these days is the ‘problem of the last meters’. These last problems aren’t so much about the technology, since most of it already exists, but how to implement all these technologies to make it actually work. These problems are for example: how do we deliver packages in (high) apartment buildings and how do people (and animals) react to these kind of deliveries [4]. The article from the Washington Post gives a great start to start asking questions which aren’t technical, but more to the side of users. What do we want as society?

The problem with the battery-life as given above can, for example, be fixed (maybe until there are better batteries) by changing the battery of the delivery drone in the air [5]. The concept Amazon Prime Air is the best example of the given idea [6], which is (unfortunately) still a concept and not working yet. Also Google [7] and Walmart [8] are joining the competition to get the first working delivery drones ready. These three competitors all want to be the first company that can use the drones, which means that a lot of research (and money) is involved. The problem those companies are working on is the reliability of the drones.

Our idea is to look at drones and find out what the best human interaction is when they want to land. Do the buyers have to put an big A in their garden? How does this work if you live on the 3rd floor? What if the neighbors also bought a package that is due at the same time? Maybe we don’t need the pilots, but we can let the buyers fly their own package the last meters? Are the buyers home at the time the package arrives? all those questions together, what can we expect from buyers and how are we going to interact with them to let the landing go smooth?

USE/Impact → who is benefiting?

Primary user

  • Consumers, people who order online
  • Drone pilots

Secondary users

  • Companies and shopkeepers
  • Drone developers
  • Drone manufacturers
  • Legislature

Tertiary users

  • Mechanics
  • Safety instances (in case of accidents)
  • People walking/using the streets
  • Other airspace users

Needs of those users


The consumers demand fast, trustworthy and safe delivery of their packages. Note that fast delivery is not necessarily a need, more than a wish or desire. Also no discrete value can be given to what is considered as fast delivery. Trustworthy delivery means the guarantee that the package is delivered withing the agreed time limit without huge delays or high chance of cancellation.

Safe delivery covers several parts. First the guarantee that the package arrives without being damaged during its trip. Second comes the guarantee that the package is not stole on the way. Last comes the demand that no damage is done by the drone to any property of the consumer during the landing.

Drone pilots

Pilots that will navigate the drones, will need adequate training and specialization to be able to safely navigate these drones through public airspace, especially in urban environments. A training facility is therefore needed and an organization that supplies drone pilot licenses will be needed. In areas with few tall buildings, autonomous drones might be used.

Companies and shopkeepers

Companies and shopkeepers will be the ones providing the service of drone delivery. Therefor they will take a large portion of the responsibility for the drones. Their needs will lay in reliability of the drones as well as flexibility. With flexibility, in this case, being able to fly long distances or multiple flights after each other without (long) charging is meant. Another important need for companies is for the drones to be cheap, or at least affordable. A right balance between price and quality must be found. Also for they are to provide the service to the consumers, consumers needs automatically become needs for companies and shopkeepers as well.

Drone developers and manufacturers

Of course with the increasing use of drones, companies will be able to make money with it. Also new developments will be stimulated. For companies producing drones the ease of producing will be an important need as well as the expense of separate parts. These parts need to be modular in order to customize the drone to fit its environment to optimize flying conditions. Furthermore, when parts become interchangeable, drones can be quickly repaired and upgraded without altering the core parts for future use.


New legislation must be designated that describes in which environments drones are allowed to navigate autonomously and in which areas it is unsafe to do this. Also a consensus about safe flying altitudes for drones must be established. Rules and requirements for a drone pilot license need to determined. During flights where drones are operating autonomously, liability becomes an important obstacle since it is not clear who should take responsibility in an accident.

Generally, taking full responsibility as the drone producer can be seen as a generous gesture towards customers and will also push the development of autonomous vehicles onto the main audience. Other autonomous machine producers have already done so: “Volvo, Google and Mercedes have now all said that they will accept full liability if their self-driving vehicles cause a collision”.[9]


Easy to repair or preform maintenance as well as safety doing so, due the fact that the drone parts are produced in a modular fashion. This makes it also cheap and environment friendly since it produces less waste as you only need to throw away the broken part instead of the whole package.

Safety instances

A need or wish for safety instances it to have the drones to be able to fly without accidents, for their priority is to provide a safe living environment. And in case of an accident, which will unfortunately be inevitable, the damage must be minimal.

People walking/using the streets

The main need for these people concerning drone delivery is to be able to walk the streets safely without the fear or risk of an accident. Other airspace users

Tight regulation of the airspace to keep the accidents to a minimum or preventive mechanisms to avoid them. Drones should only be allowed to fly at certain safe altitudes that do not interfere with air crafts and helicopters, moreover drones should not be allowed to fly next to locations like airports, since that can result in a dangerous situation that can lead to crashes with commercial airliners.


Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) is planning to start a centralized shop to save some money. In this shop product for educational use, i.e. lecture notes, college blocks and pencils, can be bought by the students and employees. It is also possible to print out reports and let them be bound. It will also be possible to borrow electronical devices, i.e. projectors, presenters and measuring equipment. The regulations and prices of this new shop will be the same as it is today in the local shops and borrow points.

The direction of the university is only afraid that some student and employees will complain, since all the local shops and borrow points will disappear. It is decided that the location of this shop will be in the MetaForum, this location is in the center of the campus and is easy to find. The board also has another idea: delivery by drone. To make even the laziest student and employees happy, your package will be delivered to your office and, if you live in Eindhoven, to your front door. All free of charge of course. The delivery time on campus will be at the most 5 minutes and in the rest of the city 20 minutes.

In a real world situation apartment complexes are seen as the buildings on campus. Suburban areas, i.e. houses with gardens, are seen as the rest of the delivery location in Eindhoven.

The costumer is able to follow his/her package on the website or the app of the shop. Here the costumer can find the location of the package and how long it will take before it arrives. If the user can’t be on the place of delivery at the given delivery time, the user can change the delivery location. When the drone with the package hasn’t left the MetaForum it’s also possible to put the delivery on hold. The package will then be delivered when the costumer says it can be on the delivery location on the given time.

From the start the new system has been quite popular. The students and staff of the TU/e have not jet experienced difficulties using the system. The management is even trying to expand the service to the cafeteria. Also other universities have shown interested in using this system at their own universities.


  1. Qualcomm (Jan 2016),“Qualcomm Video Pronkt Drone Vliegen in Autonome Modus”
  2. Conner-Simons, Adam (Oct 2015), “Self-flying drone dips, darts and dives through trees at 30mph”
  3. Stolaroff, K. (2014), “The Need for a Life Cycle Assessment of Drone-Based Commercial Package Delivery”.
  4. Frankel, Todd C. (2016), “Biggest obstacle for delivery drones isn’t the technology: It’s you and me". The Washington Post
  5. Fujii, K., Higuchi, K., Rekimoto, J. (2013), “Endless Flyer: A Continuous Flying Drone with Automatic Battery Replacement”
  6. Amazon (2016). “Amazon Prime air”
  7. Bradshaw, Tim (Aug 2014), “Google tests drone deliveries in Australia”
  8. Kulkarni, Nitish (Oct 2015), “Walmart Is Looking To Get Into The Drone Delivery Game”
  9. S.Elmer, Autoguide (Oct 2015), “Volvo, Google and Mercedes to Accept Responsibility in Self-Driving Car Collisions”