Have you ever seen a horse fly? Maybe you have, but never like this one. This HorseFly has eight rotors, a wirelessly recharging battery and a mission to deliver merchandise right to your doorstep.
The University of Cincinnati and AMP Electric Vehicles, makers of the WorkHorse all-electric delivery truck, collaborated on the HorseFly "octocopter" through an innovative partnership made possible by the University of Cincinnati Research Institute (UCRI).
The newly designed, autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was developed to work in tandem with AMP's delivery trucks, creating a safe, fast and never-before-seen method of delivering goods.
Steve Burns, CEO of AMP, explains the process like this: The HorseFly will be positioned atop a delivery truck, awaiting a package from the driver.
When loaded, the HorseFly will scan the barcode on the package, determine the path to the delivery address via GPS and fly away – completely self-guided – to the appropriate destination. Meanwhile, the delivery truck will continue on its rounds. After successful delivery, the HorseFly will zoom back to the truck for its next delivery run and, if needed, a roughly two-minute wireless recharge.
"Our premise with HorseFly is that the HorseFly sticks close to the horse," Burns says. "If required, the HorseFly will wirelessly recharge from the large battery in the WorkHorse truck. The fact that the delivery trucks are sufficiently scattered within almost any region during the day makes for short flights, as opposed to flying from the warehouse for each delivery."
Paul Orkwis, head of UC's Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, looks at the HorseFly and sees its potential to be something more.
"If you want to get really far-fetched and look into the future, at something like a flying car, that's possibly what you could be looking at with this," Orkwis says.