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Step 90 degrees aside for the crab-walking drones

Step 90 degrees aside for the crab-walking drones
Step 90 degrees aside for the crab-walking drones

The dust has not yet settled on Hyundai’s new crab-walking vehicle revealed at this year’s annual CES trade show, and there is talk of what it means for the drone sector.  

Are crab-walking drones what is needed in 2024 to live up to customers’ expectations?  

According to Global Logic’s lead business analyst, Jagadeesh Hiremath, drone innovation is heading towards this concept. Hiremath argues that while traditional drones still raise the bar in logistics, they struggle with some road hazards. 

Dense urban environments, high-rise buildings in close proximity, and complex housing infrastructure make it difficult for drones to land in an open space and make deliveries. 

America’s largest fast-food restaurant chain, Chick-fil-A, is testing drone delivery at its E. Brandon/Valrico location. If it were to roll out to other areas, it would have to reconsider the type of drones being used, where there is no open space to land and deliver customers’ burgers. 

With crab-walking capabilities, it’s possible to squeeze through tight corners and land on balconies in bustling metros. 

Improving customer experience

In the next ten years, we’ll probably look back at the tech advancements being worked on now and wonder how we got by without it. Locate2u CEO and entrepreneur Steve Orenstein believes drones will lead tech development over the next decade. 

“But also the way in which autonomous vehicles are operating. If you look at what Hyundai is doing – it’s making it easier and easier for drivers in the short term. Making it easier for them to park in those different locations and to maneuver.”

Orenstein says most delivery drivers find parking difficult in very dense areas. “I think the automation of the delivery process through robots will happen. It’s now just a matter of time. As technology evolves, many of these autonomous vehicles require people to use them.”

One of the first available EV brands, Tesla, is “capturing this data” by users, teaching AI models more about automation. “I think time will tell. Is it five years before this becomes more mainstream, or is it ten years? It will ultimately improve the customer experience by getting their delivery to happen much faster than what happens today,” says Orenstein.

Studies already show the results

In its latest updated government-owned document, the US government states how crab-walking drones’ “articulated legs” can move forward and sideways. It can endure longer distances, potentially enhance both speed and energy efficiency.

The study also shows how sideways walking robots deliver overall better performance despite the surface.  

Walking drones have been a concept in the making since 2021, as reported by Design Boom developed by Caltech.

Crab-walking vehicles

The crab-walking concept is taking full steam with Hyundai Mobis, a South Korean automaker’s parts and service arm, designing a car that can turn the wheels 90 degrees. It has the potential to increase convenience, accessibility, and time of delivery.

  • It can easily navigate through complex and overpopulated urban environments.
  • Moving sideways can help dodge trees, powerlines, and buildings. 
  • With more maneuverability, drones can climb onto balconies or squeeze through tight alleys.

According to Hiremath, there are several companies to keep a close eye on in the next few years as crab-walking drones head for the future. Those exploring these capabilities for drones are Ehang, Flirtey, and Volocopter. 

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About the author

Mia is a multi-award-winning journalist. She has more than 14 years of experience in mainstream media. She's covered many historic moments that happened in Africa and internationally. She has a strong focus on human interest stories, to bring her readers and viewers closer to the topics at hand.

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