Car parts maker ZF is using drones to deliver components to its factories

zf drone delivery factories germany 2018 11 09 pi drohne transport fn 1 press teaser

Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s … a drone carrying car parts to a factory. ZF, a German car parts maker headquartered in Friedrichshafen, is the first company in the country to be granted approval by the government to use automated drones to fly spare parts to its factory premises.

The company started experimenting with drones recently and is now using the unmanned flying vehicles to carry sensors and control cards from its central warehouse to its workshops. The company is carrying out tests flights with the intention of deploying the drones to cut down on vehicle traffic between the locations. ZF believes it can save time by having the drones handle the one-kilometer-long trip. It’s not the first company to make a drone delivery in Germany, but it’s the first to gain permission for this type of transit.

The drones being used by ZF have six motors and can transport about 11 pounds in weight at a time — which works out to about 6.5 pounds of goods once you account for the grippers and transport boxes that are attached to the flyers. Per the company, that’s about all that is needed to move small parts and tools that need to make their way to the factories. The drones are powered by rechargeable batteries that provide 30 to 40 minutes of uninterrupted flight time. The drones are designed to avoid driveways, sidewalks, and anywhere else a human might be walking, and they also have built-in redundancies that can protect against sudden failure.

“With the drone, we are taking the transport chain to the next level,” Fredrik Staedtler, head of ZF’s Commercial Vehicle Technology division, said in a statement. “With approvals for automated drone flights from the Stuttgart Regional Administrative Authority and the German Air Traffic Control DFS, we can accelerate logistics processes in the plant and at the same time strengthen our technological leadership position.”

ZF sees the potential to expand the drone delivery program to other companies, which could also use UAVs to make drop-offs at the ZF plant. In the long term, the car parts manufacturer is hoping it will be able to expand to other areas and make deliveries outside of the current areas the pilot program is restricted to.

Features

Has Columbus, Ohio raised its IQ yet? A progress report from the mayor

Two years ago, the city of Columbus in Ohio received $40 million to pursue smart city initiatives. So, what’s happened since then? We spoke with its mayor, Andrew Ginther, to discuss progress and what’s ahead.
Cars

LM Industries’ autonomous shuttles head to Phoenix, Sacramento campuses

LM Industries will deploy Olli low-speed autonomous shuttles at school campuses in Arizona and California as part of its ongoing "fleet challenge," which asks local groups to propose uses for autonomous vehicles.
Emerging Tech

Intel wants its fleet of drones to monitor America’s aging, unsafe bridges

Intel has signed a deal to use its Falcon 8+ drones to carry out bridge inspections. The hope is that these drones will be useful in spotting potential problems before they become serious.
Emerging Tech

Full-fledged drone delivery service set to land in remote Canadian community

Some drone delivery operations seem rather crude in their execution, but Drone Delivery Canada is building a comprehensive platform that's aiming to take drone delivery to the next level.
Cars

Pininfarina Battista is a 1,900-horsepower, 250-mph electric supercar

The Pininfarina Battista will be the first production car from famed Italian design firm Pininfarina. Named after company founder Battista Pininfarina, it has a claimed 1,900 horsepower and a $2.5 million price tag.
Cars

Tesla could show the electric pickup Elon Musk is dying to build in 2019

Tesla has started designing its long-promised pickup truck. The yet-unnamed model will come with dual-motor all-wheel drive and lots of torque, plus it will be able to park itself.
Cars

Allegro.ai is helping Hyundai mine the artificial intelligence gold rush

In November 2018, Hyundai invested in a startup named Allegro.ai. We talked to the company's founder to learn more about what that means for consumers in the not-too-distant futures.
Emerging Tech

With this robotic garage, retrieving your car is like using a vending machine

Remembering where we parked our cars can be a real pain. But what if our cars came to find us, rather than the other way around? A new automated robot parking valet system aims to help.
Cars

Thinking of opting for a car with a diesel engine? Here's what you need to know

Modern diesel-powered models prove that it is possible to build a clean, efficient diesel engine without sacrificing performance. Here's what you need to know about diesel cars, and how they differ from gasoline-powered models.
Cars

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…
Cars

These winter-warrior cars will never leave you out in the cold

Snow can be an absolute pain if your vehicle isn't optimized to handle that sort of terrain. If brutal snowstorms are an annual part of your life, we recommend you pick up one of these winter-ready vehicles.
Cars

2020 Toyota Supra caught hiding in a trailer without a shred of camouflage

Toyota's plan to once again lure enthusiasts into showrooms involves bringing back the Supra, one of its most emblematic nameplates. Here's what we know so far about the upcoming coupe, which Toyota is developing jointly with BMW.
Cars

NYC mandates minimum wage for Uber, Lyft, other app-based rideshare drivers

New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission approved a rule that drivers for companies such as Uber and Lyft must be paid at least minimum wage, even though they are independent contractors. The new pay rate includes operating costs.
Cars

Bosch’s CES-bound shuttle concept takes us on a trip to a not-too-distant future

Bosch envisions a future in which driverless shuttles occupy their own market segment. The German firm won't build the shuttles, but it wants to provide everything else, ranging from the drive system to the apps used to hail them.