Drone delivery has been the hot race that everyone seems to be entering now. Amazon started with the Prima Air Delivery. Google introduced project WING. Drones are also delivering vaccines and medical supplies to remote areas. A drone recently delivered an organ for a transplant operation – the first of its kind. As delivery drones are developing progressively, there are certain limitations to the use of drones to deliver in residential or urban areas. Several test flights have been conducted but people are not totally satisfied with the use of drones near their residence. While safety is being ensured through an incredibly large number of regulations, the unpleasant and loud noise that these drones make is giving constant discomfort to the residents.
Amazon has taken effort to address this issue. It has developed a ‘transformer’ drone that normally flies on regular rotor-based propellers and when it reaches the residential area, it transforms into a blimp.
What is a blimp?
A blimp is a non-rigid airship that has an envelope material that gets inflated when the air pressure on the inside increases. This inflated balloon-like air vehicle will then be steered using minimal propeller thrust. It has low stability because its shape and aerodynamic characteristics depend on the pressure of the air inside. But this is subject to variation in temperature and altitude. These variations in pressure are compensated by pumping air into the airbags using the propeller air stream.
How does the transformation reduce noise?
The design proposed by Amazon consists of a normal rotor-based drone which transforms into a blimp as it enters the residential area. The drone will have an envelope packed in its fuselage and can be inflated using a tank with compressed gas in mid-air. Once the envelope is inflated the drone can fly without having to run the propellers at full throttle, and hence the noise is reduced significantly. This not only reduces the noise; it also reduces the power consumption required by the drone during take-off and landing. The blimp will be gently steered to the delivery location by minimal propeller action.
This design proposed by Amazon will not only address the problem of noise, but it will also optimize the power consumption. Noise and energy consumption are the most important problems yet to be solved in the drone delivery industry. Amazon has come up with indeed an efficient design for this.