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Quadcopter Drone Network Will Transport Supplies For Disaster Relief 113

kkleiner writes "A startup called Matternet is building a network of quadcopter drones to deliver vital goods to remote areas and emergency supplies to disaster-stricken areas. The installation of solar-powered fueling station and an operating system to allow for communications with local aviation authorities will allow the network to be available around the clock and in the farthest reaches of the world. 'Matternet’s drone network has three key components. First, the drones—custom-built autonomous electric quadcopters with GPS and sensors, capable of carrying a few kilos up to 10 kilometers (and more as the tech advances). Next, the firm will set up a network of solar-powered charging stations where drones autonomously drop off dead batteries and pick up charged ones. A drone battery that can travel 10 km need not limit the drone itself to 10 km — rather, these drones can theoretically travel the whole network by swapping out batteries. The final component will be an operating system to orchestrate the drone web, share information with aviation authorities, and fly missions 24/7/365.'"
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Quadcopter Drone Network Will Transport Supplies For Disaster Relief

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @02:18AM (#43791077)

    In the sort of remote disaster prone areas that this would be useful, the batteries and any copper will be ratted by the locals, and everywhere else, the stations will be used as target practice.

  • Neat (Score:4, Insightful)

    by maitai ( 46370 ) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @02:27AM (#43791097) Homepage

    So a startup is trying to cash in on recent disasters with stuff that sounds great in the news feeds but they have no chance of actually deploying? Ok.

  • by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @02:32AM (#43791109)

    You have a dim view of humanity my anonymous friend. Justified, perhaps, but dim.

    What I want to know if why the %$#@! are they using electric drones if the idea is to service remote areas? 10km? Give me a couple days to warm up and I could carry 100lbs/day of supplys that far on foot without hardly trying. Electric is nice and all but it's still what, an order of magnitude or so lower in energy density than hydrocarbons? When you choose ideaology or engineeering convenience over actual real-world use-case scenarios don't be surprised when your brilliant new product is still-born.

  • by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @02:43AM (#43791155)

    Stations are no fun to shoot.

    The *drones* will be used as target practice. Not only good practice, but you get to play the mail-theft lottery. Shoot down a drone, maybe it's got a valuable cargo of expensive drugs. Or at least some food.

  • by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @02:47AM (#43791165)

    Response time. You have to follow terrain, the drone does it in a straight line and at higher speed.

    The electric I imagine is so the charging stations can operate for years without refueling or repair. A useful feature, as they are all advertising expensive parts ready for the looting, so would probably have to be placed in concealed, inaccessible locations in the middle of nowhere. Of course, they could just use a much larger drone with an engine and not need the stations at all... it'd seem easier to just automate the long-established airdrop technology. Plane flies out, drops crates of supplies on parachute, plane flies back.

"For a male and female to live continuously together is... biologically speaking, an extremely unnatural condition." -- Robert Briffault