About the drone
What makes our drone unique compared to other drones and applications is that we are able to do the flying and sections of the ordering process autonomously.
Our first generation drone has a very basic understanding of the world around it. It can navigate indoors using a system with special lights produced in collaboration with Philips. These lights all emit light at a different frequency. They are mounted on the ceiling. With the use of a camera on top of our drone it can distinguish between the different frequencies of the lights. Because the lights are all in a specific location, a mapping of the lights within the room can be used to determine the drone’s location.
Making a drone feel safe is a combination of different techniques. In our first prototypes, the rotors and other mechanical/ electrical parts were shielded from the environment by a physical barrier. A large foam ring was mounted around the rotors and plastic webbing was placed on top and on the bottom of the drone to further shield the inner mechanics from the outside environment. The shielding provided a way to give the drone a friendly appearance as well, as LED-eyes were mounted on here. The shielding makes the drone safe to touch, and therefore it can be operated close to people. Other things that make the drone safe is the tuning of the actuators. They are tuned in such a way that the drone flies very smoothly, which gives it a calm appearance so that it also feels really safe, next to being safe. Lastly, active systems have been added which give the drone the ability to sense the world around it, making sure it will not bump into anything and an emergency landing is implemented for whenever an unwanted situation occurs.
On a really basic level, the first generation drone can also communicate with people. In the drone café people were given a menu. The drone could recognise to which item on the menu customers would point their fingers at. When an order was understood, the eyes of the drone would turn green so that people knew that the drone recognized what was ordered and it would fly off. Next to that, the way the drone flies, makes that it appears very friendly compared to other drones.
Physical aspects like a gripper introduced in the first generation can greatly increase the drone’s helpfulness. The drone can be used for leisure by having it bring you items while you sit back in your chair. This particular aspect could be especially useful for people that are missing or have lost functions. It can also increase the feeling of safety, as the drone could pick up an extinguishing rod and put out a small fire when there is nobody else around.