Drone applications are evolving all the time, and now the Danish Technological Institute is working on attracting the flying technology to hard-to-reach places such as at sea with an app on a mobile phone.
- We were tired of having to carry the drone about when we went out for test flights and thought that it would be smart if you could just call it.
This was how the idea of a call system for drones came to two DTI drone experts, Jeshith Damsbo Anandasubramaniam and Mathias Flindt. They are working on a concept where their smartphone can call drones which can deliver packages containing e.g. spare equipment for a car that has broken down. To make the concept useable, they have developed an app.
- You give your position via an app on your smartphone or tablet, and the drone reads the position and flies to you using GPS, says consultant Jeshith Damsbo Anandasubramaniam.
- And if you move, you can of course update your position along the way.
The package to be delivered is attached to the drone using an electronic vacuum gripper from OnRobot.
Print your own landing spot for the drone
In order for the drone to find the desired destination, you need to place a visual marker on the ground. This marker is a black and white print that resembles a dartboard and which you can print on a regular printer. The disc is scalable and can be printed larger so that the drones can see it from greater distances.
- As soon as the drone has detected the disc, it begins to land. This means that you can tell it very precisely where it should land, says consultant Mathias Flindt from DTI.
- Right now it's just a print, but later this can be developed so that the visual marker has a built-in GPS and light so it also works in the dark.
An additional safety device in the trunk
- The potential and outlook for this technology are great, says Mathias Flindt.
- Ultimately, the visual marker can end up as part of the safety equipment in the trunk of the car like a warning triangle.
He also suggests other potential applications.
- Drone technology can also be used in markets such as the offshore industry and coastal services. Today things are sailed out, which is costly both in terms of fuel and crew. And while distances are not necessarily large, it's often hard to sail out with spare parts. Here a drone will be able to handle the work both faster and cheaper, says Mathias Flindt.
He emphasizes that the entire concept of delivering packages using drone technology is scalable in the long run.
- You can use a larger drone which can ship larger packages. There is also the possibility of using co-operating drones, delivering multiple things at the same time, he concludes.
In the video above you can see a proof of concept of how a drone calling service could work.