Drone Technology to Make Grocery Shopping Safer

Even the quickest of cornerstore trips take longer than what Anthony Tzes has designed to help those self-isolating receive their full list of groceries.

The Program Head for Electrical and Computer Engineering has developed delivery drones capable of traveling to grocery stores to retrieve items.

He says a 30-minute trip to the grocery store could be cut down to less than 10 minutes by a drone capable of carrying 10 kg. For orders larger than that, Tzes is working on developing road drones capable of lifting up to 100 kgs - another contactless method of delivering groceries to people that are socially distancing themselves.

He says they are working on equipping the road drones with sensors to make sure that they would not be a hazard to others on the roads. He says that even in the case that human error would cause an accident, the road drones are only 200 kg, making an accident highly unlikely and minimally damaging to a car.

The technology has already been designed, but it’s a matter of permission that keeps Tzes from putting his technology in use.

“The moment we are given the go ahead to do these things, we can move ahead, as long as we get permits.  There is no permit right now per se, but at some point we want to convince the transportation authority to tell them these are urgent circumstances,” he said.

Tzes said these technologies could be used if government measures against COVID-19 reach the point whereby civilians are no longer allowed to go out. Furthermore, the method allows for a safe way to deliver materials without subjecting anyone to the danger of infection.

“At some point, we have to deliver food to residents. It is unfair to ask personnel to step in the way of danger to distribute food. We’re looking to make it fairer for everyone, for these robots to step in,” he said.