Food delivery gig with our Butterfly Drone prototype

Food Delivery with flapping-wing drones… non-sense? Last Friday, our Butterfly Drone did just that! During a live-streamed event @Kopper Cress greenhouse, where the consequences of COVID-19 on the hospitality sector were discussed over a dinner prepared by the affected top-chefs.

To lighten up the atmosphere, our drone delivered a starter to the table, combining its original purpose, entertainment, with contactless food delivery, one of the options on how to deal with the coronavirus situation.

The inherent safety of Flapper Drones, necessary when flying close to people, comes also from their low weight (~100g). Because of that, only finger food could be delivered by the drone… But hey, it‘s a starter 😉  

Because we learned about the event only 24h ahead, some improvising was necessary. Also, we had no idea in what container the starter would be served. We only knew it would be around 25g.

A quick test showed that a sling-load is not a good idea. We thus decided to create a loading-bay-style “trunk” under the already present landing gear. To save weight, the floor of this trunk was made of a net, and the only available net we had lying around was the one used for packaging of oranges… thanks coronavirus 🙂 Simple 3D printed parts, leftover carbon rod bits and a few zip-ties did the rest of the magic. This solution worked great. When on the ground, this trunk bottom was flat, but once in the air, the transported object would dip into the net, which ensured the object would not bounce around… well not too much at least…

Later we raised the net in the front and back to ensure the transported payload does not fall out when pitching in order to fly forward. The sides remained unobstructed and allowed for quick and easy loading and unloading.

Even with this quickly-rigged-up solution, we succeeded in delivering the starter multiple times during the rehearsal, and finally also during the live event 🙂 Something we would not have thought about last week, but we now officially have a food delivery drone in our fleet!

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