Coming Soon: Honda Drone Bike 0

Drones are fast becoming indispensable in modern life, whether as a cheap way to make stunning videos or as a future delivery system for essential supplies. But you’ve probably never considered having one built into your bike.

Honda Is Developing a Bike-mounted Drone

Honda has. Its R&D department has filed a patent application for a motorcycle-mounted drone, though it’s clearly a very long-distance vision of the future rather than something that’s just around the corner. The new patent document describes a drone with four rotors that sits in a housing in the extended tail of a motorcycle. The idea is that it’s a completely autonomous flying machine that can be released on command and return automatically to the bike when needing a recharge.

If you’re asking why you’d need such a thing, you’re not alone. Even Honda’s own patent is a bit vague on the subject, listing a host of possible uses without focusing on a single main benefit.

Among the potential purposes of the drone, Honda suggests it could be used to deliver fully charged battery packs to an electric motorcycle—solving the range problem of electric bikes—though there’s no clear mechanism for actually swapping the packs, and given current technology it’s impossible to imagine a quadcopter that’s both small enough to fit on a bike and big enough to carry a battery able to propel the same bike.

A more realistic suggestion is that the drone could work as part of a traffic monitoring system, watching the road ahead and feeding information back to the bike’s rider to warn of problems before they come into view at ground level. The drone is also suggested as a sort of communications relay, extending the range of systems on the bike itself or alerting emergency services in the event of an accident, and Honda even says that while docked it could be incorporated into the bike’s cooling system, using the rotors as fans to suck air past a radiator.

Given that drones, communications systems, and motorcycles are all well-established technologies, you might be wondering what Honda is actually trying to patent. It seems that the main technical novelty on the bike-mounted drone is a system to move the rotors, making the quadcopter compact enough to fit into a housing on a motorcycle but also allowing the rotors to spread further apart once it’s released, making a bigger, more stable drone.

It’s also worth noting that Honda’s patent clearly shows the drone fitted to an electric sportbike. While we can’t infer too much from the rather simplistic drawings, of all the machines Honda could have shown the drone with, the firm has chosen one of the most tempting—particularly taking into account teases like the stunning RC-E concept bike from 2011 and the long-standing Mugen efforts at the TT Zero, which were widely seen as a Honda-backed electric bike development project.

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NASA Heads Deliveries By Drone For Amazon, FedEx, FAA 0

A national system to manage the air traffic of commercial drones is underway, led by NASA.

As more companies look to make deliveries via unmanned aerial vehicles, a system to regulate…and avoid catastrophe, is desperately needed.

The future of UAV deliveries, automated flying taxis, and more could hinge on just how well the trials pan out.

“This activity is the latest and most technical challenge we have done with unmanned aerial systems,” an official with NASA in California, David Korsmeyer, told the Associated Press.

“When we began this project four years ago, many of us wouldn’t have thought we’d be standing here today flying UAVs with advanced drone systems off high-rise buildings,” he added.

Cities Present the Biggest Challenges

Amazon and FedEx are among the companies that hope to send consumer products by drone by 2020. Drone delivery company Flirtey began testing delivery of defibrillators for cardiac arrest patients last year in Reno under FAA oversight.

 

“A drone pilot can pre-program landing spots that are known to be safer, such as a garage rooftop or a park. But they can’t know ahead of time if there will be people standing there or a parked car,” NASA officials wrote in a blog. “One solution being tested during TCL4 was developed by UTM team members at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. It allows the drone to use its camera to detect pedestrians or vehicles and, if necessary, move on to the next safe place.

This phase represents the most complicated demonstration of advanced UAS operating in a demanding urban environment that will have been tested to date,” said Ronald Johnson, NASA’s UTM project manager.

Similar tests have been conducted in remote and rural areas. The Federal Aviation Administration has authorized individual test flights in cities before but never for multiple drones or outside the sight of the operator.

Conventional delivery methods have been found to be unreliable at times.

The agency outlined proposed rules in January that would ease restrictions on flying drones over crowds but said it won’t take final action until it finishes another regulation on identifying drones as they’re flying — something industry analysts say could be years away.

Does an Expensive Bike Improve an Amateur Cyclist’s Performance? 0

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Dare to dream big

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Perfect opportunity

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