MSU Student Team Develops Delivery Drone System

What is AIDED?
Aerial Intra-City Delivery Electric Drones is a uniquely safe, quiet, and affordable drone delivery system. These delivery drones will “hitch a ride” on top of public transportation vehicles to charge and shorten flight distance. Their specialized landing gear corresponds with latching systems that can be installed to the top of public busses. All components are innovatively designed to provide a stable and synchronized connection between the drone and bus while in motion.
AIDED is a system that provides a multitude of improvements to the state-of-the-art (SOA) delivery drone. AIDED will be able to increase package delivery efficiency for shorter delivery time, a faster transition to electric public transportation and infrastructure development, and will decrease the number of delivery vehicles on the road.
Michigan State University College of Engineering’s story about the project:
Why is AIDED important?
  • AIDED is safer than any SOA delivery drone, as it will be flying for a shorter period of time. More than halving the flight time of a delivery route improves public safety by reducing the chance of airborne failure that can result in civilian injuries and property damage.
  • AIDED is more affordable than any SOA delivery drone. Since it requires less flight time, there is less wear on the drone, which will reduce the need and cost for maintenance.
  • AIDED will reduce traffic by decreasing the number of delivery vehicles on the road. This decrease will also reduce harmful emissions that delivery vehicles contribute to the atmosphere.
  • AIDED creates less noise pollution than any SOA delivery drone because the drone will spend most of its travel time latched onto the bus, rather than spending all of its delivery time in the air.
Demonstration Illustration
1. The package is loaded onto the drone. The drone then determines which bus route runs closest to the Package Destination (red flag). The drone will then leave the Package Hub (red star).
2. The drone determined that Bus Route 23 is the best route from the Package Hub to the Destination (blue line). The drone locates the nearest Route 23 bus and intercepts it at the nearest bus stop (black dot). This figure also details the drone’s return to the Package Hub.
3. The drone docks using a latching system that is mounted on the roof of the bus. The drone’s battery is charged by the latching system during the ride.
4. At a bus stop nearest the Package Destination, the drone departs to deliver the package by air. After dropping the package off, the drone uses the same method to return to the Package Hub (green line) on Bus Route 30.
Drone and Latching/Charging Design
There are currently two drone designs and two latching and charging systems under consideration. Each drone design corresponds to a particular latching & charging system.
One of the two drone/latching designs is pictured below.
Figure 1: Drone Design
Figure 2: Latching and Charging Design
Drone: On the bottom of the drone, a receiver cone connects to a matching conical latching and charging dock (Figure 1).
Latching and Charging: The conical dock is mounted to the top of the bus when the drone lands. When the drone has settled onto the receiver, the latch on top of the dock turns to secure the drone and also charge the battery (Figure 2).
Our Goals
Build a specialized heavy payload delivery drone, a respective latching & charging system, and write software for autonomous flights.
By the end of our year-long project, AIDED will have the ability to:
  • Carry up to 20 lbs of payload
  • Autonomously locate an appropriate bus
  • Safely land and latch to the bus
  • Charge through the bus’s latching system
  • Take off from the bus
  • Deliver the package
  • Return to package hub on another bus
What We’ll Do This Year With the Help of Your Donations
Stage 1: Both the Drone Team and the Latching & Charging Team will build prototypes on a simpler and smaller scale of the final designs so we can test the system, choose the well-performing prototypes to move into real scale construction, and make improvements.
Stage 2: The prototype drone will be used by the Software Team and Latching & Charging Team to test and perfect the flight software and latching prototypes. The Latching & Charging team will build the selected prototype from stage one in full scale for further testing and improvement. The drone team will build the second drone in full scale.
Stage 3: Full integration between drone, software, and latching & charging systems with a vehicle will be achieved.
We need your help!
Our proposal was selected by the NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate’s Undergraduate Student Research Challenge (USRC). Crowdfunding for $2,000 is part of the project to demonstrate to NASA that there is public interest in what we’re doing, and to gain access to the rest of NASA’s funding. This is where we need your help!
The proceeds of this crowdfunding site will support the costs of testing the drone and its latching and charging system through trial and error with various hardware and software components. Your donations will ensure that the final drone and the final latching and charging designs have the best possible performance in flight and integration.
Gifts for your Generous Donations:
  • $25 donation: AIDED logo sticker
  • $200 donation: 15 oz AIDED logo mug

To redeem your gift, please contact the organizer with "MSU AIDED Gift" in the subject line and provide your name and shipping address.  

Logo that appears on AIDED merchandise
Meet Our Team
The AIDED team consists of a group of driven Michigan State University students with a passion for innovative, safe, and cost-effective technological advancements. These students believe that the key to public safety and efficiency is to use every available resource to challenge technological norms.
Pictured from left to right: Luke Lewallen, Kindred Griffis, Hunter Carmack, Kyle White, Jacob Martin, Ryan Koschay, Yuchen Wang, Caroline Nicholas, and Dr. Woongkul Lee
Not pictured: Scott Newhard, Gavin Gardner, Rohan Singh, Davis Ross, Dan Beaudrie, Malachi Keener, Dorian Smalley, Neli Potdukhe, Rhett Pimentel, and Shukai Wang
The team would like to acknowledge the assistance of MSU Unmanned Systems, faculty advisor Dr. Woongkul Lee, resources and support from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Michigan State University, and recognition from NASA. The team would also like to acknowledge Laura Nicholas, artist of the AIDED cover image, logo, and demonstration illustration.
The material contained in this document is based upon work supported by a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) grant or cooperative agreement. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of NASA.

Fundraising team (2)

Yuchen Wang
Raised $550 from 4 donations
East Lansing, MI
Caroline Nicholas
Team member
Raised $180 from 1 donation

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