MightyFly unveils its Cento second-generation cargo drone

By Bruce Crumley

San Francisco Bay Area cargo UAV developer MightyFly has unveiled the second generation of its hybrid-powered vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) drone, Cento, which it plans to produce and operate for end-to-end freight services on flights of up to 600 miles.

Formerly known as the potentially wise-crack generating MF-100, the new Cento version of MightyFly’s cargo drone has already begun testing following the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issuing the craft a Special Airworthiness Certificate and a Certificate of Authorization (COA) for long-range operation. The company says the approval to begin demonstrations of autonomous VTOL flights of up to 600 miles with 100 pounds of freight aboard is “unprecedented in the industry.”

Founded in 2019, MightyFly is wasting no time in getting its innovative approach to air freight transport aloft.

Mightyfly says presentation of its Centro cargo drone comes less than two years since the company raised $5.1M seed funding for the second-generation VTOL, and just nine months after its initial concept stage. The 13.1 x 16.7-foot autonomous UAV is made up of a high wing carbon fiber airframe, eight electric vertical lift fans, one forward propulsion propeller, and a 6 x 1 x 1- foot internal payload bay that can hold 96 small USPS packages.

The cargo drone’s hybrid powertrain shifts between an internal combustion engine that recharges depleted batteries that will otherwise be used for flight, enabling Centro to make multiple deliveries along a route, or single long-haul run, that MightyFly will operate from start to finish as a seamless service to customers.

The relatively compact size of the craft requires limited landing and takeoff space, while an automated conveyor belt handling loading and offloading of packages obviates the need for human intervention.

Continue reading…MightyFly unveils its Cento second-generation cargo drone
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A MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH COULD MEAN REALISTIC AUTONOMOUS BIRD-LIKE DRONES ARE ON THE HORIZON

By TIM MCMILLAN·

The challenge to imitate nature’s gravity-defying designs has confounded some of the most brilliant engineering minds for at least the last 1,200 years. Specifically, designing a functional ornithopter–the technical term for an aircraft that flies by flapping its wings–has proven to be an exceptionally difficult task. 

Now, thanks to a recent breakthrough, the development of the world’s first true ornithopter and dexterous-winged unmanned aircraft, capable of flying and perching just like a bird, appears to be on the horizon. 

Researchers working with the European Union-funded GRIFFIN project recently demonstrated the ability of an ornithopter to fly, land, and perch on a tree branch using a talon-like claw system. All autonomously, without any additional in-flight input from a remote user. The achievement marks the first time a large-scale autonomous ornithopter has been able to perform this incredibly complicated maneuver. 

According to the GRIFFIN project, this recent breakthrough will pave the way for flapping-wing robots to perform a number of real-world applications, including long-range observation and logistics missions. 

Continue reading… “A MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH COULD MEAN REALISTIC AUTONOMOUS BIRD-LIKE DRONES ARE ON THE HORIZON”
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UK’s first drone ‘super highway’ will create 165-mile corridor to reduce lorry numbers

Plans are being drawn up to create a drone ‘super highway’ for carrying cargo and other supplies

By Graham Hiscott

Telecoms giant BT has announced a £5million investment in Altitude Angel, whose a scheme called Project Skyway would see a 165-mile drone corridor created above Reading, Oxford, Milton Keynes, Cambridge, Coventry and Rugby

Plans are being developed for a drone “super- highway ” to mean fewer lorries on the road. 

Telecoms giant BT has announced a £5million investment in a company whose technology could allow long-distance drone deliveries.

The firm, Altitude Angel, is working on a scheme called Project Skyway that would see a 165-mile drone corridor created above Reading, Oxford, Milton Keynes, Cambridge, Coventry and Rugby.

The long-term aim of the project is to connect towns and cites, as well as transport and package delivery hubs across the country using drone networks.

Crucially, the technology will allow different drones – as well as crewed aircraft – to use the same airspace without the risk of crashing into one another.

Continue reading… “UK’s first drone ‘super highway’ will create 165-mile corridor to reduce lorry numbers”
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A European planemaker built a pilotless aircraft to power the world’s first ‘cargo drone airline’ — meet Black Swan

Black Swan. 

By Taylor Rains

Bulgarian manufacturer Dronamics will soon debut a pilotless cargo aircraft the size of a delivery van, named Black Swan.

The plane boasts 50% lower costs than competing aircraft, a 770-pound payload, and a 1550-mile range.

The company will operate the aircraft as the world’s first “cargo drone airline” starting in 2023.

A new cargo aircraft is getting ready to hit the market.

European manufacturing company Dronamics will soon debut the Black Swan — a pilotless drone certified to carry freight in the European Union starting in 2023.

The concept is the brainchild of Bulgarian brothers Konstantin and Svilen Rangelov. Speaking with Insider, the latter said the pair started looking into the market in 2013 when Amazon began dabbling in drone deliveries.

Continue reading… “A European planemaker built a pilotless aircraft to power the world’s first ‘cargo drone airline’ — meet Black Swan”
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Mobile, Autonomous 3D-printed Drone Manufacturing

ABOUT THE 2022 OODA LOOP SERIES:  AUTONOMOUS EVERYTHING

 By Daniel Pereira

In a series of posts entitled Autonomous Everything, we explore automation in all its technological forms, including legacy working assumptions about the term itself.  Autonomous Everything includes a broad autonomous future in areas such as Security Automation, Automation and the Workforce, Automation – or Augmentation – of the workforce, and Automation of AI/Machine Learning Training Models and Industry Standardization.     Recently, we checked in with Junaid Islam, a well-known cybersecurity expert, to discuss security automation tools, the increased cyber risks enterprises face, and the emerging AI-based Zero Trust cybersecurity for Smart Energy, Transportation, and Manufacturing systems.

We now explore Orbital Composites’ work with United States Air Force to create mobile, autonomous 3D-printed drone manufacturing capabilities.

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Swoop Aero to create ‘world’s largest’ drone delivery network in Queensland

By Bruce Crumley

Melbourne-based international drone delivery company Swoop Aero is ending 2022 on a high note in its domestic market, receiving an Australian government grant to extend its operation in Southern Queensland into what the firm says will be the world’s largest aerial logistics network of its kind.

The development comes as part of a wider national government effort to improve various kinds of transport in Queensland, which features both traffic-clogged cities and smaller towns separated by what are often vast spaces. Officials are providing a total $1.8 million to help finance Swoop Aero extend its existing drone logistics and delivery activity into a network covering 175,000 square kilometers, and capable of spreading to a full 400,000 square kilometers.

The project is open to all kinds of partners – including commercial businesses – though the initial focus will primarily be on using Swoop Aero’s delivery drones to speed and improve healthcare services across Southern Queensland. 

Continue reading…Swoop Aero to create ‘world’s largest’ drone delivery network in Queensland
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Quantum-Systems drones to help SKYLAB with forest management

By Ishveena Singh

German drone manufacturer Quantum-Systems has struck a partnership with forest management provider SKYLAB to allow customers to understand the state of their forestry assets better.

SKYLAB is known for using deep learning and aerial data analytics to generate precise and detailed forest maps. In addition to fully-digitalized forest management, the company provides dedicated services for seedling survival, weed monitoring, timber and carbon stock inventories, monitoring forest health, harvesting operations, and more.

Quantum-Systems is coming into the equation with the promise of enabling SKYLAB to maximize the usage of aerial data with Trinity F90+ fixed-wing eVTOL. Since the F90+ is compatible with several camera solutions, including the MicaSense Altum-PT, MicaSense RedEdge-P, Qube 240 LiDAR, Sony UMC- R10C, Sony RX1 RII, and the Oblique D2M cameras, it can cater to almost all aspects of forest management. 

In addition, a flight time of up to 90 minutes means that forestry professionals can move from just sampling and extrapolating 1% of the forest to knowing 100% of the forest.

Continue reading…Quantum-Systems drones to help SKYLAB with forest management
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Working like bees, 3D-printing drones could change the future of construction

The drones could be used to build shelters in harsh conditions both on Earth and in space.

By Teodosia Dobriyanova  

A team of researchers at Imperial College London and Empa have been developing collaborative aerial drones. Inspired by the work of bees, the scientists are training the robots to construct 3D printed buildings from a single blueprint.

To ensure maximum accuracy, the cooperative drones would complete their own tasks and then supervise the work of their peers. The drones are fully autonomous once in flight and have so far successfully completed tests with lightweight cement mixtures.

Continue reading… “Working like bees, 3D-printing drones could change the future of construction”
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Dronamics deal to allow net-zero middle-mile drone delivery flights

By Bruce Crumley

Europe’s middle-mile drone delivery specialist Dronamics is moving to make its flagship Black Swan UAVs entirely carbon neutral through a linkup with UK company Zero Petroleum to supply fossil-free fuel for future aerial cargo transport.

The partnership is the most recent in a series of deals Dromamics has revealed as it prepares to launch middle-mile drone transport of goods and medical materials across Europe as an option to existing road alternatives to destinations shorter-distance delivery UAVs don’t reach. Under the accord, Zero Petroleum will provide its ZERO SynAVGAS fossil-free fuel to power Black Swan craft on entirely sustainable, carbon-neutral flights of up to 2,500 km.

The companies describe ZERO SynAVGAS as a direct-drop replacement for traditional fossil-based fuels without any engine performance loss other synthetics can involve. It’s manufactured by extracting hydrogen from water and capturing carbon from atmospheric carbon dioxide, a process that emits the exact volume of carbon it burns. It becomes 100% sustainable when powered by renewable energy tech like solar or wind, and will be used in specially designed Rotax propeller engines that Dromamics will equip its delivery drones with.

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Drone startup claims it flew its zero-emissions ion propulsion drone on 4.5-minute test flight

The company believes its design will lead to far fewer noise complaints for urban cargo drones in the future.

By Chris Young

Florida-based tech startup Undefined Technologies announced its unique ionic propulsion drone has passed an outdoor flight test, meaning it’s on track for commercial release in 2024, according to a report from New Atlas.

The drone, called Silent Ventus, uses proprietary technology to ionize the oxygen and nitrogen molecules in the surrounding air to create an “ionic wind” that propels the machine in the direction it wants to go. According to Undefined, the drone could be used for cargo.

Continue reading… “Drone startup claims it flew its zero-emissions ion propulsion drone on 4.5-minute test flight”
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Drone Swarms Use 3D Printing to Build Concrete Structures

These drones could work autonomously and in tandem to construct and repair buildings.

By Rainer Klose

Future vision: Swarms of drones could also be used in space, for example on a future Mars mission.

3D printing is gaining momentum in the construction industry. Both on-site and in the factory, static and mobile robots print materials for use in construction projects, such as steel and concrete structures.

A new approach to 3D printing – led in its development by Imperial College London and Empa, the Swiss Federal Laboratories of Materials Science and Technology – uses flying robots, known as drones, that use collective building methods inspired by natural builders like bees and wasps.

The system, called Aerial Additive Manufacturing (Aerial-AM), involves a fleet of drones working together from a single blueprint.

It consists of BuilDrones, which deposit materials during flight, and quality-controlling ScanDrones, which continually measure the BuilDrones’ output and inform their next manufacturing steps.

The researchers say that in contrast to alternative methods, in-flight 3D printing unlocks doors that will lead to on-site manufacturing and building in difficult-to-access or dangerous locations such as post-disaster relief construction and tall buildings or infrastructure.

The research was Led by Professor Mirko Kovac of Imperial’s Department of Aeronautics and Empa’s Materials and Technology Center of Robotics.

Continue reading… “Drone Swarms Use 3D Printing to Build Concrete Structures”
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Dronedek offers ‘next generation’ mailbox for drone, robotic delivery

Tested in Indiana, ‘world’s first smart mailbox’ for drone, robot and traditional mail delivery debuted on ‘Fox & Friends’

By Kerry J. Byrne

Indiana company debuts first smart mailbox ready for drone delivery.

The future of mail delivery arrived Tuesday morning on “Fox & Friends” with what co-host Lawrence Jones called “the world’s first smart mailbox.”

“This is the Dronedek, which is the next-generation mailbox,” said Dronedek founder and CEO Dan O’Toole, as he demonstrated the service outside a brick commercial building on a rainy day in Lawrence, Indiana.

Co-hosts Jones, Steve Doocy and Ainsley Earhardt marveled at the moment of innovation from the New York City studio.

Continue reading… “Dronedek offers ‘next generation’ mailbox for drone, robotic delivery”
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