Delivery drones have more than a few challenges, not the least of which is dropping off the package in a convenient place. Do you really want to head out to your yard to collect a box? You might not have to. Advanced Tactics has successfully tested delivery with a drone, the Panther sUAS Air/Ground Robot, that can both fly and drive up to your door. When it’s too dangerous or costly to travel by air, the machine just has to touch down and wheel its way to its destination. It promises more considerate (not to mention less theft-prone) shipping to homes and offices, and it could also lead to faster deliveries in areas where no one transportation method is particularly speedy.
The Panther drone isn’t a heavy-duty hauler when it can only carry 15lbs, and its range is limited to 10 miles when on the ground (flying range isn’t mentioned, but it only flies for 5-10 minutes). However, it can handle attachment that extend its usefulness well beyond getting products from A to B. You can add a camera and video screen for telepresence, or sensors if you’re using it to study nature or construction projects. You can even add robot arms to grab samples or unload supplies.
The Panther is already on sale in the US (it’s discounted to $2,495 until April 5th), and Advanced Tactics is quick to stress that you don’t need to go through regulatory hoops to own one. It’s light enough to be considered a small drone, so you don’t need an FAA waiver to fly it. You probably won’t see companies using it right away, though. While it’s relatively easy to buy a drone for personal use, it’s another matter to clear the legal and logistical hurdles needed to use it for business. Where would delivery drones launch from, for example? Still, the test is proof that there are already drones that can solve some of the real-world problems with drone use.