VTOL parcel system: Pack, Take off, Land and Deliver

Nice - I envisage a little helicopter, which gets to whatever GPS position you gave it, then phones you and homes in on your mobile phone signal. Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation and NIAC (NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts) focused on the future of package transportation by looking at VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) aerial vehicles, also known as AVSLA: Autonomous VTOL Scalable Logistics Architecture - in essence, smart flying robots - as part of a rapid delivery system for high priority packages for usage in the future.

vtol parcel system
vtol parcel system

Using NASA's Highway in the Sky program, a computer guided VTOL plane could deliver and pickup parcels. A VTOL plane with a payload capacity of 40 pounds would be adequate for many parcels. With computer guidance, little labor cost is involved in a parcel pickup/delivery. One person could remotely monitor a dozen or more VTOL planes. Monitoring would be mainly during pickup and delivery.

NASA's Highway in the Sky program provides a routing system, which can be used to avoid midair collisions. Since all flights would be below the altitude that commercial planes operate in, the routing system only needs to handle private planes and the APS (Airborne Parcel Service) planes. Initially, a person watching a video image from a TV camera onboard the VTOL plane could remotely control the parcel pickup/delivery. Compressing the video signal and using a wireless data link may provide a good enough TV image for the person watching. Delivery could be to a driveway or to a landing pad. Some sort of boom could be used that allowed the VTOL plane to stay several feet off the ground, yet allow the parcel pickup/delivery to be precisely controlled, even in moderate wind gusts. Later, most parcel pickups and deliveries could be fully automated.


The economic advantages and benefits of an airborne parcel service are great. It takes several times less energy to propel a plane carrying a 40-pound payload than it does to propel a 2500-pound car. There is the potential for a significant reduction in air pollution and gasoline usage.

Once the service is established and reliable, it could be expanded to a taxi service. I want to see UAV pizza delivery.... Could you imagine the people shooting at the drones to "hunt" some pizza for dinner?

Via: Aarontang

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