Here’s the latest from the world of drones

Jon Lawson
A drone on charge

In recent years the drone market has accelerated as the technology gets cheaper and more and more uses are found. Stratistics MRC’s recent survey estimated that the market could reach US$8.27 billion by 2027, up from last year’s figure of US$1.90 billion. 

With health matters high on the current global agenda, American manufacturer Matternet has teamed up with UPS Flight Forward (UPSFF) to trial a new distribution system in Wake Forest Baptist Health hospital in North Carolina. Using a hub-and-spoke routing model, two separate tasks are undertaken: firstly delivering scheduled deliveries of specialty medicines with a short shelf life or temperature sensitivity, secondly an on-demand offering for consumables such as PPE. 

Conrad Emmerich, chief supply chain officer at the hospital observed, “Increasing efficiency of our supply chain routes helps provide better service to our patients and their families… Partnering with UPS Flight Forward through our iQ Healthtech Labs opens new doors for us to do just that through drone delivery.”

Charging ahead

Battery drones needing a charge could soon benefit from an autonomous system and new FlashBattery technology from StoreDot. The company claims it reduces downtime from 60 to 90 minutes for a half hour flight to just 5 minutes. Dr Doron Myersdorf, CEO of StoreDot explained: “By reducing battery charging time to just 5 minutes – which is up to 18 times faster than existing drone batteries – and eliminating the need for human intervention, drone operators have far greater freedom about where they can site charging stations. As a result, continuous, fully-autonomous drone operation is finally being made a reality.

“Drones will now be able to spend much more of their valuable flight time engaged in actual missions, greatly extending their range, rather than having to return to base to have their battery swapped. At the same time, ultra-fast charging (UFC) will also enable drone users to expand their operations into regions they could not previously access. Both of these factors will significantly increase operational efficiencies and profitability, making the business case for drone use much more attractive than ever before.”

Myersdorf continued, “In applications where cutting response times is critical, and where organisations must also demonstrate a commitment to reducing their carbon footprint, the use of drones can play a crucial role in helping to establish a competitive advantage. However, commercial drone ventures haven't really taken off up until now as they haven’t yet delivered an economical business model. For these types of companies, UFC technology can hugely improve and extend their existing operations and make them much more profitable. We believe this technology can also open the door for new players to enter this space and extend their service offering, making drones a more attractive proposition as a new revenue stream.”

The company reckon that by next year the technology could be adapted to charge a car as quickly.

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