Brown University Students Undertake Cookie Drone Delivery

Cookies were delivered via drone today at Providence, R.I.-based Brown University, where two undergraduates demonstrated a patent-pending tethering system that allows a payload to be lowered from an airborne unmanned aircraft.

The cookies – from newly opened Insomnia Cookies in Providence – were flown and dropped off across the College Green to the steps of the Stephen Robert ‘62 Campus Center, says the university.

“For successful deliveries, there needs to be a safe and efficient way to lower packages to the ground,” says Jacob Dyer, a Brown sophomore who developed the system with senior Aaron Zhang. “Our system works without the drone having to land and take off – minimizing energy loss and avoiding potentially hazardous landing areas.”

During their demonstration, Dyer and Zhang piloted the aircraft by remote control. The two students recently landed a grant from Brown’s Jonathan M. Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship to continue their work, which includes the possibility of developing their own drone. (Currently, they’re using an off-the-shelf drone that they’ve modified with their tether device.)

Brown says the students would like to explore the possibility of a more robust machine but are undecided on whether they plan to create a business out of their system.

“We plan to validate our technology first, then decide whether or not the regulatory and consumer landscape is ripe for us to compete with the larger players,” Dyer says.

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