Those who complain about the slowness of postal deliveries or lost packages will soon be able to easily monitor the arrival of the expected goods. Not by typing the usual traceability codes on the computer but by putting on the binoculars.
Yes, because it looks like in the future a new figure will knock on our doors, or more likely on our windows: the postman drone.
Irony aside, the first flight of a postman drone in the skies of Italy, and more specifically in those of Turin, managed without a hitch.
Let’s find out more about a project that could be used on a large scale in the near future. And that shows another of the possible multiple uses of drones.
The postman drone experiment: the companies involved
There are three companies at the head of the project: Poste Italiane, Leonardo and FlyingBasket.
Poste Italiane needs no introduction, and Leonardo is a company active in the defense, aerospace and security sectors, 30% of which is from the Ministry of Economy and Finance.
Also involved is FlyingBasket, an Italian startup that develops drones and collaborates with Leonardo.
The Sumeri Moderni project
The name of the postman drone project, Sumeri Moderni, although suggestive, is perhaps not immediately understandable.
It derives from the fact that in a certain sense it was the Sumerians, who invented both the wheel and the sail, who started the transport logistics.
The project was born with the name of Sumeri. We are in 2018, and Leonardo and FlyingBasket begin to develop Advanced Air Mobility, according to the Italian National Strategic Plan of Enac (National Civil Aviation Authority).
Then in February of this year there was the Sumeri project: we set sail! It was a sort of preview of the postman drone flight, in which it was demonstrated how a drone is able to transport heavy objects in an urban context without creating dangers.
And in recent days, finally, we arrived in Sumeri Moderni, or rather the first Italian flight of a postman drone.
The first flight of a postman drone
On Tuesday, December 14, a drone left the sorting center of Poste Italiane in via Reiss Romoli, in Turin. And after traveling more than 7 kilometers, he arrived at the Basse di Stura plant made available by Iren.
The objective of the successful test was to confirm the safety of the flight of a drone already tested in February, but this time on the medium distance, that is, from the province to the city center, also flying over densely populated areas.
The drone used
The FB3 postman drone used in the test, made by FlyingBasket, is electrically powered, with a load capacity of up to 100 kilos and a maximum take-off weight of 170 kilos.
The drone therefore weighs 70 kilos, and is vertical take-off and landing. A leader in heavy payload drones in safety-critical applications, the FB3 was designed for civilian applications. But it can also be used in military logistic missions.
Laurent Sissmann, Leonardo’s senior vice president of Unmanned Systems, said: “We are investing heavily in technologies dedicated to drones. The ultimate goal is to fly drones without human intervention, but with artificial intelligence. The drone must therefore be able to see obstacles, avoid them and be able to manage the execution of the assigned mission in total autonomy. It means that it has to interpret the environment on the basis of programmed algorithms, overcoming any possible setback. A large automatic carousel that will make Turin one of the first cities in Europe to guarantee new mobility. And the transport of people remains our guiding light ”.
Furthermore, drones “can connect isolated areas or areas without dedicated landing infrastructures. And this thanks to a system for releasing the load using a cable. And in the meantime, traffic and pollution are being reduced, meeting the new explosion of e-commerce “.
Moritz Moroder, CEO of FlyingBasket, added: “The future of logistics lies in autonomous freight transport. This mission demonstrated the incredible potential of cargo drones in metropolitan areas. Today we transport 100 kilos with a single drone, in the future a fleet of autonomous drones will not only be able to keep up with the growing logistic demand, but will also increase flexibility and reduce delivery times ”.
Taxi drones and postman drones (and more)
A few weeks ago we gave you news of the first taxi drone prototypes, while the first flight of the postman drone is already a reality.
In our future we will have crowded skies, for which we will need ad hoc brigades. Vigilant but perhaps also policemen, given that two disconcerting news are very recent: a drone has brought a gun into the Frosinone prison, and other drones have tried (unsuccessfully) to introduce some smartphones in the Lanciano prison, for the benefit of the inmates.