Last week, one of the drones managed to fly over 97 miles in an attempt to deliver a four-pound package that contained a machine part. This has been one of the longest drone-deliveries within the US, and it went to and from Austin, Texas.
The drone had a set route and had to fly over several Texas farm roads. Then, it finally reversed its course and managed to successfully deliver its package to a person that was within Austin’s city limits. The flight itself took more than two hours but was successfully completed. These tests were done by a group that has been flying drones in the Nevada’s designated drone test site, the Federal Aviation Administration. They also had support from three drone service companies, as well as the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
The drone itself flew autonomously, but the observers were still following its progress. They were posted along the route, and the aircraft was always kept in the line of sight, as per FAA’s rules. These rules are what currently makes drone deliveries pointless since the whole idea is that humans don’t have to be present. However, even though it might take years, it’s expected that drones will eventually be deemed safe enough to fly outside of the line of sight, and do their deliveries without human observations.
FAA claims that one of the biggest problems that they’re planning on dealing with next is to find a way to make an unmanned aircraft remotely identified. This needs to be done so that the law enforcement could tell who’s the pilot of the drone, even if they aren’t visible.
This particular drone was one of the fixed-wing ones, which means that it didn’t use rotors like quadcopters do. It had a cellular chip within its “body”, which served as a communication device that the operators on the ground used. It connected it to the ground via cell tower infrastructure that already existed in the vicinity. After the flight was finished, the group reported no gaps in connection.
The flight was continuous, and the drone didn’t need to refuel or recharge. It was powered by the combination of gas and batteries, and the only time it stopped was when it delivered the package itself. It then took off vertically and returned to Austin, where it successfully finished its mission.