Tag Archives: flying drone

Dubai tests drone taxi service

The two-seater, 18-rotor unmanned vehicle took off for a five-minute flight above a strip of sand on the Gulf coast.

The flight was watched by Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed.

Dubai has big ambitions for becoming a smart city, with drones and robots central to its plans.

The drone was designed by German firm Volocopter and the firm said it hopes to have the taxis up and running within five years.

“Implementation would see you using your smartphone, having an app, and ordering a Volocopter to the next Voloport near you,” said chief executive Florian Reuter.

“The Volocopter would come and autonomously pick you up and take you to your destination.”

The drone had previously been tested in Germany in April.

A man looks on as the flying taxi is seen in Dubai

Rival Chinese firm eHang was supposed to be the first to launch a fleet of flying taxis in the city but its plans appear to have been delayed.

Blade Runner?

Dubai has positioned itself to become the smartest city in the world with ambitions to have self-driving vehicles account for a quarter of journeys made by 2030.

Noel Sharkey, a computer scientist and robotics expert at Sheffield University, said of the drone plans: “The big challenge will be dynamic obstacle avoidance of other taxis, buildings, birds and delivery drones.

“The skies over Dubai could become uncomfortably crowded very quickly. The ground level of the city could become a dark place of intrigue and mystery like Blade Runner.”



Amazon’s delivery drones may drop packages via parachute

Amazon has said its drones are coming soon — but don’t necessarily expect them to land in your yard.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday granted Amazon a patent for a method to guide packages released from drones safely to the ground.


Previously the e-commerce giant had publicly released demo videos of its drones landing in yards to drop off packages. The company has testing for several years to determine the best method to deliver to customers in the future.

The patent suggests Amazon is considering keeping its drones high above customers’ homes, an approach that could be more efficient and safe. In the document, Amazon said that landing a drone takes more time and energy than releasing a package from high in the sky. If Amazon’s drones don’t land in yards, this prevents potentially dangerous collisions between the drones and any people, pets or objects in a customer’s yard.

The patent also describes how Amazon’s drones would use magnets, parachutes or spring coils to release the delivery while in mid-flight. Once the package is released, the drone would then monitor the descending box to make sure it’s dropping properly onto the desired landing patch.

It’s unclear when Amazon will launch drone delivery in the United States. Its current plan, which calls for automated drones flying without the direct supervision of a human, isn’t legal today.

Amazon featured Prime Air in a light-hearted Super Bowl ad, in which Alexa told a customer she could look for delivery of Doritos soon. But the ad wasn’t meant to be taken literally, and there is no launch date for the service in the United States.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the patent awarded Tuesday.

Competitors such as Google have shown off similar plans, in which a package is dropped from the sky. Late last year the drone delivery firm Flirtey completed an automated drone trial with 77 packages delivered from a 7-Eleven in Reno, Nevada. The flights were legal because Flirtey had a human supervise the flights, which were completed within a mile of the 7-Eleven. After extensive testing, Flirtey said it had found a way to drop a Slurpee without spilling a single sip.




Japan’s latest mascot is a flying drone puppy

In perhaps the first case of a robot being picked, the town of Oji in Nara, Japan, has picked a flying puppy as the area’s official mascot.

The mechanical dog, named Yukimaru Skywalker, has made his flying debut in a promotional video as he floats past attractions including the Yamato River, Mount Myolin, Mount Akishi, the Eternal Bell, and Daruma Temple.

The pup is powered by a quadcopter and while in motion, moved its paw

In one video, Yukimaru passes the spot where the drone’s namesake a white dog called Yukimaru, is buried. The dog belonged to ruler Prince Shotoku (574-622), a member of the imperial clan who created Japan’s first constitution for political affairs and was said to be the politician’s beloved pet.

According to legend, Prince Shotoku assisted a beggar he found by the roadside by offering him food and drink.

However, the beggar — which was secretly Buddhist monk Bodhidharma in disguise — “died,” and Shotuku chose to honor him by burying him in a tomb. A few days later, the body had vanished.

The legend is linked to the creation of the Dali Temple.


According to the town’s Facebook page, a human version of Yukimaru is also in frequent attendance at public events:


Every animal from a bottlenose to a sheep and cat have appeared on town and city mascot lists, but a drone is an unusual contribution. However, considering the pup’s namesake and history of the town, perhaps you couldn’t find a more fitting promotor for the town.