Air & Space Smithsonian - - In The Museum -

FPS, an auto parts re­tailer and dis­trib­u­tor with more than 120 deal­er­ships in the U.K., made the first com­mer­cial de­liv­ery in the United King­dom by drone on March 13, 2015.

FPS asked Drone­flight to help make a con­cept video us­ing two drones: a DJI s1000 to de­pict the de­liv­ery, and a DJI In­spire to film the event.

“The idea wasn’t to ac­tu­ally make a le­gal de­liv­ery with a prod­uct in­side,” says An­drew Grif­fiths, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Drone­flight. “The idea was to just il­lus­trate the con­cept rather than ac­tu­ally do it for real. But while we were work­ing on the sto­ry­board and plan­ning the video, we no­ticed that one of the FPS cus­tomers—brake­line—was about 70 me­ters [229 feet] away from their build­ing.

“So we looked at all of the stuff Brake­line had or­dered for some­thing that was the ap­pro­pri­ate size and weight, and did fly it over,” says Grif­fiths. “It was all within a safe area, and all within a vis­ual line of sight, but it was a real de­liv­ery with a real prod­uct. Brake­line had no idea it would be de­liv­ered by drone.”

The DJI s1000 is typ­i­cally used for pho­tog­ra­phy, and isn’t some­thing FPS would likely use as a de­liv­ery drone in the fu­ture. A light­weight box had to be fit­ted to the drone, which lim­ited the size of the prod­uct that could be car­ried.

The film shows the drone tak­ing off within FPS’S ware­house and fly­ing over bu­colic fields to­ward its des­ti­na­tion. The film takes some artis­tic li­cense, ad­mits Grif­fiths. For in­stance, it doesn’t show that the metal shelv­ing in the ware­house in­ter­fered with the drone’s com­pass. “Any­thing you see in the film isn’t nec­es­sar­ily what hap­pened,” says Grif­fiths. “The drone looks like it’s fly­ing over fields in the mid­dle of nowhere, and ob­vi­ously it fly­ing over fields in the

was mid­dle of nowhere, but not in a sin­gle flight.”

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