New Drone Flies, Then Drives


If the idea of drones flying day and night through your neighborhood to deliver lattes and tacos is unsettling, a company in California offers a new option — their drone can fly part of the way, but then land and drive itself quietly up to your doorstep. The VTOL Air/Ground Robot recently completed a delivery test near the headquarters of Advanced Tactics, in Torrance. It can carry payloads up to 15 pounds, and can handle rough terrain as well as sidewalks, the company said.

“The combination of vertical takeoff and landing flight with off-road driving capabilities in a package delivery drone make the autonomous AT Panther VTOL air/ground robot unlike anything else previously seen,” says the company. For package delivery, the system will have both air and ground obstacle-avoidance capability, and will perform autonomously with a remote human operator acting as safety pilot/driver. The system then deploys the package autonomously, or an operator can talk to the customer through voice and video and hand off the package by remote control. The Panther then returns to the safe takeoff and landing area and heads back to base to receive the next package at up to 70 mph, says AT.