Drone systems are becoming more and more prevalent as we become more and more technologically advanced. Google, Amazon, and many other companies are looking into the possibility of using drones to deliver goods, and we believe this will become the future of delivery services
We decided to try and retrofit an existing drone to carry a package to a specified location, and deliver it safely to the ground.
What it does
The system can deliver a can of Redbull (or anything else that fits in the drone's cargo area) up to a mile away from the user's location, and deliver it in relative safety to the ground.
How we built it
We took the standard body of the Phantom 3, and first reinforced it with plastic bars to keep the system rigid and give us places to mount hardware. We brace the can of RedBull against the plastic bars, and keep it captive with a line which is held in place with a servo which is attached to a receiver and controller from a RC helicopter. When we activate the servo releases the line, and the can of RedBull. As the RedBull can falls, it deploys a parachute which allows it to safely reach the ground without bringing the Drone dangerously close to the ground.
Challenges we ran into
The main challenge we had was the method with which we lower the payload to the ground. Lowering the drone can be dangerous, due to obstacles, and less than reliable signal quality while out of the pilot's line of sight, and so we decided on a parachute to allow the payload to safely descend. I calculated that for the weight of the RedBull can (0.25 kg) to descend at a safe speed of 5 m/s, I needed a parachute with a diameter of 60 cm. The first iteration of the parachute was made with plastic panels which were taped together to make a large chute with a diameter of 60 cm. This chute ended up being too stiff and heavy due to the taped seams, and the heavy plastic used. The parachute failed to deploy properly, and the can plummeted to the ground. I reevaluated the issue, and made 2 parachutes with the same total area as the first version. These parachutes were made out of a lighter, more flexible material which was possible because of there smaller size.. This worked beautifully, and allowed the can to safely descend to the ground.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We are proud that the system we made can reliably deliver and drop a package over large distances. the system works remarkably well considering it was built in under a day, and the only refinements have been to the parachute design.
What we learned
We learned the value of rapid product development, and and the importance of being resourceful while still using mathematics and physics to optimize key components. While we could have gone in without doing much Math, and probably have reached a comparable end product, the use of physics, especially while designing the release system and the parachute allowed us to quickly reach a great system.
What's next for Giving RedBull Wings; Drone Delivery System
Only the future will tell! We would like to create an integrated system for releasing the payload, as well as a more refined hardware set.