Corvus: Urban Air Mobility Solutions for Package Delivery; Societal Impacts of Urban Air Mobility

Brunsink, Brett, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
McDaniel, James, EN-Mech/Aero Engr Dept, University of Virginia
Elliott, Travis, EN-STS Dept, University of Virginia

The subjects of the technical project "Corvus: Urban Air Mobility Solutions for Package Delivery" and the STS research paper "Societal Impacts of Urban Air Mobility" are closely intertwined. NASA Langley’s vision for the University Design Challenge was to come up with creative technical solutions for a drone package delivery system. As drone technology and vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft have developed significantly in recent years, many new visions for how to utilize these technologies have arisen. While the technical project primarily focused on conceptual design of an aircraft, it very closely related to the discussion in the STS research paper of Urban Air Mobility and the effects that will follow this type of system.

The conceptual design for a package delivery drone is presented in the "Corvus: Urban Air Mobility Solutions for Package Delivery" paper. This tandem tilt-wing drone is capable of autonomously delivering a 5 lb. package a distance of 10 miles away, returning back to the delivery center, autonomously picking up another package and completing another round-trip delivery. Safety of the system is heavily emphasized with redundancy measures in number of electric motors, a parachute emergency system, and detect and avoid systems for safe operations. Ground systems for package loading were also designed. A full business case was presented to show the viability of such a system.

The paper, "Societal Impacts of Urban Air Mobility," presents the argument that the development of an Urban Air Mobility system will have impacts on society while also being heavily influenced by society and their perception of such a system. Social, economic, and environmental impacts are presented, and the STS frameworks of Co-Production of Science and Social Order and Social Construction of Technology are used to analyze these topics.

Working on these two projects simultaneously was valuable to understand the societal effects that may result from the conceptual work of the technical project. Designing a new autonomous package delivery drone is challenging and interesting on its own, but also considering how such an invention has greater implications than just being an exciting innovative technology was a valuable process. As an engineer it is critical to understand the implications of our inventions and be aware that these actions lead to effects outside of the scope of the technical project.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Urban Air Mobility, UAM, drone

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering
Technical Advisor: James McDaniel
STS Advisor: S. Travis Elliott
Technical Team Members: David Normansell, Cristhian Vasquez, Henry Smith III, Timothy Mather, Daniel Choi, Derrick Devairakkam, Gino Giansante, JD Parker, Joseff Medina, Justin Robinson, Philip Hays, Alejandro Britos

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