Drones on Wheels: DC's Newest Delivery Technology

  • June 28th 2016

by Nena Perry-Brown

Drones on Wheels: DC's Newest Delivery Technology: Figure 1

While delivery by flying drone technology has gradually gained acceptance as a probable feature of the future, the fact remains that DC is a no-fly zone. But that doesn’t mean that the nation’s capital won’t see delivery drones on the street.

As WTOP reports, the District will become the first jurisdiction in the nation to permit testing of sidewalk drone technology following a unanimous vote last Thursday by the DC Council. Approval of the wheeled-drone technology was lumped into a budget amendment and will come with several restrictions related to speed, weight, and size. Additionally, any interested company is only allowed to test five drones at a time.

DC residents could see delivery drones on the sidewalk just after the end of the summer. Starting this September, wheeled robots from European firm Starship Technologies will share the sidewalks as they go about their delivery duties.

Starship’s sidewalk delivery robots are outfitted with several cameras that will help it navigate the streets, an alarm to deter theft and a microphone and speaker to allow a remote operator to communicate in emergencies. The remote operator would also be able to take control of the device, if necessary.

The company’s drones will travel as far as three miles from their home base at a pedestrian-like speed of four miles per hour. Delivery recipients would be given a unique PIN code to unlock the robot and retrieve its contents.

“The robot’s now traveled 4,000 miles in more than 12 countries and 35 cities,” Starship spokesman Henry Harris-Burland. “It’s come into contact with 400,000 people on its travels. And to date, we have not had one incident of theft or vandalism.”

Starship’s pilot testing period, unlikely to involve actual customers at first, will run in DC from September 15th through the end of 2017.

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/drones_on_wheels_dcs_newest_delivery_technology/11408.

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