Drone delivery is inherently dangerous — regardless of how excited companies like Amazon are getting about the idea, the thought of airborne robots weaving in between skyscrapers and over cars is downright unnerving. That’s why it took months of preparation for a group of hobbyists to stage Hong Kong’s first drone delivery.
The mission was to send a chocolate bar from Tseung Kwan O to Repulse Bay. That’s straight across Hong Kong — over mountains, above the ocean, and through tall buildings. The pilots say that the drone used is just a “consumer-level quadcopter easily available online,” though they customised it a bit for better battery life. They set up a relay team of seven pilots to take control of the drone at various points throughout the flight. The 10km journey ended up taking almost 14 minutes, but it happened without incident. And the footage is simply bonkers. (They picked the flight plan specifically because it “offers the best scenery.”)
Again, this took a lot of planning. The pilots spent weeks studying wind patterns, spotting building heights, and finding a route that didn’t cross over many roads. They also detailed their process in the video’s description on YouTube so that others could learn safe flying techniques. “Drone technology is progressing so fast that if we hadn’t done this delivery stunt, someone else would have — but someone with less experience,” one of the pilots told the press. “We wanted to raise awareness about the preparation required for a safe flight.”
In the end, the chocolate bar was a little bit melted, but the pilots proved their point. Drone delivery can be done without the danger. However, looking ahead at the uncertain future of autonomous drones, it’s clear that there are a lot of variables at play. We already know that autonomous drones aren’t always autonomous and drone malware is a real scary thing. So let’s fly safe, ok? [Boing Boing, SCMP]