What is DelivAIRy?

The use of drones is not only attracting more and more attention in private use, but is also gaining relevance in logistics in particular. Drone technology is opening up new use cases for logistics processes. Various application scenarios, such as inventory in the warehouse or the transport of goods by drone, are being researched at Fraunhofer IML in Dortmund. Here, the transport of goods in particular places high demands on the load-bearing capacity of goods. From this, a module was developed that enables flexible and fully automatic gripping of goods with any drone.

The module consists of two round-shaped parts: Adapter and gripper. The adapter is attached to the transported goods. In the case of packages, for example, the adapter can be hooked into a strapping band. In returnable transport boxes, it is integrated directly. Thus, any goods can be gripped and transported by means of the adapter. The gripper from DelivAIRy is attached under a drone and is compatible with different drones through simple interfaces. Thus, the best drone can be selected for the respective application.

The drone's autonomous approach is controlled by image analysis software that receives its data from a camera installed in the module. The transported goods are placed in a marked landing area, which is located, recognized and approached by the drone. The goods are identified via a barcode on the adapter. This also serves as a fixed point for the drone's approach. No separate landing frame is required for the landing, as the module itself acts as a landing frame. As soon as the drone has landed on the transported goods, the slats of the gripper are automatically extended, analogous to a photo shutter, to positively enclose the adapter. The round shape of the adapter has the advantage that the drone does not have to align itself around the central axis when landing. The positive fit also eliminates the need for additional energy to hold the cargo during transport. Once at its destination, the module also decouples fully automatically. The symmetrical design of the module and the simple, mechanical gripping device have resulted in a fast, flexible and robust system that enables fully automatic pick-up and delivery of any goods.

In addition, the module serves to charge the drone. A charging station with an integrated adapter is flown to autonomously if required. This so-called "ground station" supplies the adapter with storm and charges the drone by connecting it to the gripper. The drone dwells at this station between transport jobs.

Use Cases

Use cases for DelivAIRy are primarily in time-critical application areas, as the use of the drone with the module can generate a significant time advantage. For example, in (express) parcel delivery or a delivery to remote locations, as well as urgent supply in production or on construction sites. There are also various application scenarios for DelivAIRy in the medical sector, such as the transport of blood reserves or medicines in emergency care or disaster situations.

The various possible uses of the load handling module are made possible by the standardized gripping process and demonstrate the module's versatility. After the development of a prototype, Fraunhofer IML is looking for an industrial partner for the joint further development of DelivAIRy towards market maturity, as well as for exciting pilots in practice.


The magic behind DelivAIRy

In this video Philipp Wrycza explains everything about the drone - DelivAIRy​