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- LAST NEWS: Drone World Expo 2017 – Registration Now Open
- LAST NEWS: $1M Prize for Bridge Inspection by Drones
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- LAST NEWS: Amazon Patents Drones with Telescoping Landing Legs
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Amazon Patents Drones with Telescoping Landing Legs
A diagram shows how an Amazon drone could land on a sloping surface while keeping its main frame level, thanks to telescoping landing legs. (Amazon Illustration via USPTO)
Amazon’s inventors are taking a page from Inspector Gadget’s playbook to design drones with adjustable landing legs and reconfigurable propellers. Those two design tricks are the focus of patents issued today. It’s hard to say whether they’ll become features on Amazon’s delivery drones, still in development.
The idea for the landing gear, credited to Nicholas Kristofer Gentry, adapts the sort of telescoping feature long used for camera tripods: When a drone lands on a sloping surface, its legs can expand or contract to keep the drone’s frame (and, not incidentally, its payload) level.
“The landing gear assembly may also operate as a landing dampener to absorb shock resulting from a landing of the UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] to absorb safe delivery of fragile items,” the patent says.
The patent even covers ideas such as building spikes, screws, suction cups or magnets into the landing legs. Such features could help the drone stay put while it’s sitting on icy, slippery or metallic surfaces.
This diagram shows how the angle of a drone’s propeller tips (seen at upper left) can be adjusted for different flying conditions during a trip from Boston to New York. (Amazon Illustration via USPTO)
The other patent published recently focuses on the tips of a drone’s propellers. The originators of this idea, Brian Beckman and Allan Ko, suggest building in a mechanism that can change the slant of the propeller tips, effectively creating “winglets” like the upturned tips on a Boeing 737’s wings.
Winglets can increase flight efficiency by minimizing the spinning vortices of air that are created as a flat surface slices through the air. However, there are some situations where winglets reduce flight stability – for example, if there’s a strong crosswind during takeoff or landing.
The patent lays out a scheme in which the drone can adjust the angle of its propeller tips to strike the right balance for its flying conditions. And that’s not all.
“Those of ordinary skill in the pertinent arts will recognize that the systems and methods of the present disclosure may be utilized to realign or readjust any attribute of a reconfigurable propeller, including not only cant angles of blade tips with respect to blade roots, but also blade pitches, blade lengths, blade rake angles, or any other attribute of the propeller,” the inventors say.
The applications for both patents were filed back in 2015. Amazon traditionally doesn’t comment on its patent filings, and there’s no evidence that the features have been built into the prototypes that the company is currently testing (or putting on display at this week’s SXSW conference in Texas).
Region: USA and Canada
2017-03-23Drone World Expo 2017 – Registration Now Open
Registration is now open for Drone World Expo 2017. From October 3-4, the 3rd annual Drone World Expo will once again gather thousands of thought leaders, end-users and decision makers in the commercial drone industry at the San Jose Convention Center.
2017-03-20DARPA Awards Phase 2 Gremlins Program Contracts
DARPA recently completed Phase 1 of its Gremlins program, which envisions volleys of low-cost, reusable unmanned aerial systems (UASs)—or “gremlins”—that could be launched and later retrieved in mid-air. Taking the program to its next stage, the Agency has now awarded Phase 2 contracts to two teams, one led by Dynetics, Inc. (Huntsville, Ala.) and the other by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (San Diego, Calif.).
2017-03-17US Air Force Buys Drone-Snagging Shotgun Shells
US Air Force security forces, as well as other military personnel and federal law enforcement agencies, may soon be getting a new tool to take down small commercial drones: shotgun shells with a net. The special cartridge is just one system the Pentagon has been looking at to manage the growing threat from small and readily available quad-and hex-copter-type unmanned aircraft.
2017-03-15US Deploys Gray Eagle Systems to South Korea
The U.S. military is deploying a new Gray Eagle attack drone system in South Korea as it moves to bolster capabilities against a growing threat from the North.
2017-03-14USAF Tests Drone for C-17 Post-Flight Inspection
The 412th Test Wing’s Emerging Technologies Combined Test Force used a quadcopter to conduct a maintenance inspection of the exterior of a C-17 Globemaster III here March 6, 2017.
2017-03-10New York Power Authority Tests Drone Inspections
A team from the New York Power Authority joined some Ontario Power Generation representatives to fly a drone around the Robert Moses Dam and St. Lawrence spillway as part of NYPA’s research into launching its own drone inspection program.
2017-03-09USAF Pays $15.6 Million for Anti-Drone Systems
The US Air Force awarded a $15.6 million contract to ELTA North America Inc., to deliver 21 “counter-unmanned aerial systems,” according to a Feb. 21 Pentagon announcement.
2016-11-30Type-Certifiable Predator B Takes Flight
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA‑ASI), has announced that its Type-Certifiable Predator B (TCPB) variant completed its first flight test at the company’s Gray Butte Flight Operations Facility near Palmdale, Calif., on November 17th.
2016-11-21FAA Evaluates Drone Detection Systems Around Denver
Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) that enter the protected airspace around airports can pose serious threats to safety. The FAA is coordinating with our government and industry partners to evaluate technologies that can be used safely to detect drones near airports.
2016-11-17New York Makes $30M Public Investment in Drones
The state of New York is pouring big money into making its central territory an international draw for unmanned aerial system (UAS) innovation.Govenor Andrew Cuomo announced Nov. 10 that $30 million in public funds would be applied toward the creation of a 50-mile-long research corridor to aid in the development of a UAS traffic management system and bolster the state’s standing as an innovation hub.
13 Takeaways from The White House Workshop
13 Takeaways from The White House Workshop
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