Amazon Drone Delivery is Vaporware!

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos let on that they’re looking to start delivery by Amazon Drones in the near future.

This is a very cool, futuristic idea. However there are a few problems that get simply skirted over:

GPS signal commonly fails in Cities

Large cities have very crowded radio frequencies, not to mention all the interference with the signals bouncing off buildings. This can be remedied with improved antenna, but it is not a perfect solution.

GPS does not account for buildings.

Even if you have a VERY accurate GPS system to match the user locations, GPS does not know necessarily where building, or other interference may be. He claimed it would be great for city delivery, but think about the process of dropping a package off on a porch, there’s typically no direct vertical path to a porch. A drone would have to drop down from altitude, navigate below obstacles (like a roof) in order to drop off the package.

It would probably require a Pilot

One way around the variability of where the package is delivered is to have a Drone pilot. The US drone fleet for instance uses pilots for many tasks including takeoff and landing (although fully autonomous systems are being used). You could have an autopilot system, but that would require a whole host of sensors and processors, significantly reducing the range of the Drone.

I the technical problems of automating a drone like this is on the same order of having a self driving car. There is the technology out there, but it is currently too heavy for small drones. Bottom line is the delivery area and method is HUGELY variable.

A 10 mile range is dreaming with current technology

Given this is a few years off with the FAA 2015 thing, but at current rate, flight times for quadcopters of this size, especially large Hexa- and Octacopter drones are currently only 30 minutes maximum. 10 Miles (which is 20 round trip) is going to require a much larger battery capacity, especially with a 10 pound payload (copters are very sensitive to weight).

Not to mention your delivery area would be influenced by local wind conditions.

Not to say it’s not doable, but the Amazon Drones would require some pretty big advancements in sensor weight and battery technology before it’s viable.

The 2015 FAA Drone Rules are not yet Known

It is still a huge unknown. Currently drones are technically limited to a 400 ft max altitude and must be flown by line of sight. Once 2015 hits it’s not that it will be drone free for all. The FAA at this point only has an IDEA what it needs to figure out how to regulate drones. Knowing the FAA there’s going to be a whole host of not only airworthy requirements for drones, but Sense and Avoid systems, secured communication hardware, battery redundancy, and flight traffic integration requirements that are not yet known.

Basically the FAA could sink the Amazon Drone system before it even gets off the ground.

 

Drones will at some point come into our every day lives, the advances in battery technology, sensors and flight controllers are seeing to that. But it’s not as simple of a problem as Bezos makes it seem.

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Kitted out like a Boss

In the process of the past few weeks we’ve received nearly all our equipment for the upcoming season from Panther pb Competitive Cyclist. So it’s time for another in depth analysis of our equipment.

Alright so the in-depth analysis will not poses the same depth as last years article, mainly because there is no major classic on the horizon. You see, since being out west I’ve turned into a regular Lance Armstrong GC rider after winning the prestigious Colossal Cave Stage Race. After a grueling 2 days of racing on Go-Kart tracks and windswept roads of Tucson, I feel transformed. Fueled by my diet of only carrots and celery, I’ve dropped my weight and body fat to about 1% and feel ready to tackle more stage races:

Anyway I’m getting off topic. Back to the not so in-depth analysis, which is not entirely true. There is one aspect of my new Canyon bike that I’ve contemplated for some time…What is this hole for? (a question I commonly ask)

Here’s the bike in it’s glorious entirety. Notice if you will that you’ve probably never seen a Canyon bike before in America unless it was under Panther rider. There is good reason for this, Canyon’s aren’t sold in America. You can’t get one, don’t even try. Just gaze at it’s awesomeness in incredible envy:

Alright you might be able to get one through Competitive Cyclist, but only if you’re really cool.
Weighing in at a blistering 15.08 lbs, which is probably 23.5 kg based on my calculations for all you Euro’s out there, this bike is nice, I mean really nice. I’m not going to lie it’s probably by far the best bike the world in it’s short 10,000 year history has ever created It’s supple on the order of feeling like you always have a rear flat tire thanks to the hair thin seat stays, and super stiff up front thanks to the ridiculously large downtube, and 1.5 – 1.25 in steerer tube. Yes the increased diameter of the steerer tube makes the front end incredibly stiff, it also makes it impossible to find a stem with a 1.25 diameter. Don’t worry the correct size stem is on it’s way direct from Germany, in the meantime I was able to fab my own stem out of a Specialized stem with some of the tastiest shims ever made.

With all these design changed made to the bike I was pretty curious why they didn’t go with the BB30 in the BB department.

My own theory is that Omega Pharma Lotto (one of the only other teams cool enough to ride Canyon’s) rides Crapangolo, who doesn’t yet make a BB30. Don’t worry they will, resistance is futile. Don’t worry any stiffness lost on this inferior BB deisng is more than made up by the bling-ing Zipp bottle cages, who’s bling-ness is shown by my own gang sign:

Another feature you may or may not have noticed on our bike is a brand of wheels that I have smashed several times on this blog(with the notable exception of the 2009 season for some odd reason). However, again for some unexplainable reason, Zipp has totally redeemed itself to me. We’ve been supplied with the new 404 Firecrest rim shape for this season. But for reals, Zipp did something that the whole bike industry should have done long ago: use some computational fluid dynamics to figure out what’s the best rim shape (OMG NO WAAAY). The results are pretty legit, and wheels have performed pretty well in the cross winds so far…I mean I DID win the Colossal Cave Stage Race on the Zipps.

But it still has dimples.
We also received our kits finally which look, I’m going to warn you, pretty sexy.

Yeah I’m pretty dorky, but lets be honest, the only way it could be sexier is if it involved some sort of bear rug:

Unfortunately the whole bear rug wouldn’t interface too well with a bike saddle I don’t think.
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Kammwhat?

The cycling industry likes to pride itself in being cutting edge when it comes to Aerodynamics. For many companies this sense of elite technology is what moves their goods. This is a slight exaggeration of the truth, the cutting edge that bikes ride on is more like the edge of a dull plastic butter knife. What’s worst about Aerodynamics in the bike industry, aside from producing some really dumb bikes:

is that it seems like research for bike aerodynamics is done completely backwards. For instance; in most industries that deal with aerodynamics (or any other technical designing), trade studies are first completed, followed by the creation of an initial design based on already proven knowledge. Computer models then run simulations on the design producing data to help optimize the initial design. Then finally, after several design iterations based on computer and analytical analysis, the wind tunnel is used as a proof of concept, since very complex fluid phenomenon cannot be modeled in the computer.
The cycling industry seems to work in reverse. Go on any website and look for some claims of aerodynamic advantage that are backed by any research or legitimate science and you will be looking for a long time. More likely you’ll find something like this, from a Purdue Cycling Club alumni I might add, that makes the design process sound like it STARTS in the wind tunnel and is more like the process of sticking random shit in a wind tunnel (check out 0:50).
Speaking of Purdue Alumni taking over the bike industry, check this out:
Greg is such a Boss. Anyway the point I’m getting as is that when bike companies allocate their R&D funds (which I imagine is way smaller than their marketing budget), it seems like they just blow it all renting a wind tunnel for a day.
What would be more efficient (and cheaper to everybody), would be to do a little research. It’s no secret, except to bicycle manufacturers, that low speed fluid dynamics has been figured out for the past half century. There is a wealth of information and papers published on the subject. So instead spending all their time and money of re-discovering some great aerodynamic phenomenon for reducing drag that was actually used before WWII, they could instead learn about it when they complete their trade studies. That would allow them to figure out better designs to test in the first place, and possibly cut their wind tunnel time dramatically (which is VERY expensive).
Here’s a great example of a Aero tidbit of info that cyclist have just seemed to discover: the Kamm effect. It’s basically a very simple bit of optimizing the already very aerodynamic teardrop shape. Developed in the 30’s, the basic idea is to chop off the end of the teardrop at 50% of the maximum thickness. This will produce a relatively small increase in the drag, but reduce a large amount of the surface area (and thus material which = WEIGHT). It was originally applied to cars

This design concept lead to some pretty iconic cars including the original Ford GT and this classic ’62 Ferrari.

Finally, in the past year, the Kammback has made it’s way into the cycling industry in the form of helmets from not only Giro, but also Louis Garneau:

This is a good concept for helmets in particular. Most likely the design concept came from the idea that most TT guys will ride head down, and having a huge teardrop shape sticking up in the air is bad for drag.
The design is also making it into bike design with Scott, who apparently uses full aircraft wind tunnels for their tests. They’ve incorporated the idea into their new F01 bike for 2011

More importantly they’ve hit the nail on the head for why this type of design is important:
“achieve aerodynamic performance with a light and stiff profile”
By reducing the long tear drop tail of most aero frames you gain a few key benefits. Not only does this reduce a lot of weight, but it also makes the tubing closer to circular, which is much more structurally sound. Finally this chopping of the tail will reduce poor performance that a lot of aero bikes have in cross winds.
As with most other disciplines of designs, the name of the game is optimization. By giving up a little aero performance, the bike (or helmet) can have great gains in other design areas.
Anyway this is all just the opinions of someone who has never actually worked in the bike industry…so Zipp, I know I’ve insulted you in the past, but if you give me a job I’ll take it all back.
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Kam

The cycling industry likes to pride itself in being cutting edge when it comes to Aerodynamics. This is just flat out false, but for many companies this sense of elite technology is what moves their goods. What I dislike most about the application of Aerodynamics in the bike industry, aside from producing some really dumb bikes,

is that it seems like research for bike aerodynamics is done completely backwards. For instance; in most industries that deal with aerodynamics (or any other technical designing), trade studies are first completed, followed by the creation of an initial design based on already proven knowledge. Computer models then run simulations on the design producing data to help optimize the initial design. Then finally, after several design iterations based on computer and analytical analysis, the wind tunnel is used as a proof of concept since very complex fluid phenomenon cannot be modeled in the computer.
The cycling industry seems to work in reverse. Go on any website and look for some claims of aerodynamic advantage that are backed by any research or legitimate science and you will be looking for a long time. More likely you’ll find something like this, from a Purdue Cycling Club alumni I might add, that makes the design process sound like it STARTS in the wind tunnel and is more like the process of sticking random shit in a wind tunnel (check out 0:50).
Speaking of Purdue Alumni taking over the bike industry, check this out:
Greg is such a Boss. Anyway the point I’m getting as is that when bike companies allocate their R&D funds (which I imagine is way smaller than their marketing budget), it seems like they just blow it all renting a wind tunnel for a day.
What would be more efficient (and thus cheaper to everybody), would be to do a little research. It’s no secret, except to bicycle manufacturers, that low speed fluid dynamics has been figured out for the past half century. There is a wealth of information and papers published on the subject. So instead spending all their time and money of re-discovering some great aerodynamic phenomenon for reducing drag that was actually used before WWII, they could instead learn about when they complete their trade studies. That would allow them to figure out better designs to test in the first place, and possibly cutting their wind tunnel time (which is VERY expensive).
Here’s a great example of a Aero tidbit of info that cyclist have just seemed to discover: the Kamm effect. It’s basically a very simple bit of optimizing the already very aerodynamic teardrop shape. Developed in the 30’s, the basic idea is to chop off the end of the teardrop at 50% of the maximum thickness. This will produce a relatively small increase in the drag, but reduce a large amount of the surface area (and thus material which = WEIGHT). It was originally applied to cars

This design concept lead to some pretty iconic cars including the original Ford GT and this classic ’62 Ferrari.

Finally, in the past year, the Kammback has made it’s way into the cycling industry in the form of helmets from not only Giro, but also Louis Garneau:

This is a good concept for helmets in particular. Most likely the design concept came from the idea that most TT guys will ride head down, and having a huge teardrop shape sticking up in the air is bad for drag.
The design is also making it into bike design with Scott, who apparently uses full aircraft wind tunnels for their tests. They’ve incorporated the idea into their new F01 bike for 2011

More importantly they’ve hit the nail on the head for why this type of design is important:
“achieve aerodynamic performance with a light and stiff profile”
By reducing the long tear drop tail of most aero frames you gain a few key benefits. Not only does this reduce a lot of weight, but it also makes the tubing closer to circular, which is much more structurally sound. Finally this chopping of the tail will reduce poor performance that a lot of aero bikes have in cross winds.
As with most other disciplines of designs, the name of the game is optimization. By giving up a little aero performance, the bike (or helmet) can have great gains in other design areas.
Anyway this is all just the opinions of someone who has never actually worked in the bike industry…so Zipp, I know I’ve insulted you in the past, but if you give me a job I’ll take it all back.
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UCI Time Trial Regulations

You may or may not have heard of a new set of UCI regulations banning the ‘two-level‘ tri-bar cockpit commonly found on modern time trial bikes. As the Cycling news article states, the goal of the rule is to prevent riders from using their arms in a more aerodynamic way. Here is some of the highly technical jargon and diagrams found in the UCI’s rule book:

If you actually bothered to read the rules and took the time to actually understand what they were talking about in the above picture, I encourage you to find a hobby like knitting. For anyone who is not as technically minded, I have ascertained a top secret document from one of the many UCI technical meetings. It is from a reliable source and shows us just a glimpse into the genius insights and inner workings of the UCI’s “Preventing the Bastardization of the Bicycle” technical Team:

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