Volkswagen has kitted out one of their ID.4 EVs with an on-board drone and a roof-mounted launching platform. Called the Drone Command Concept, it was developed in conjunction with the Tennessee Valley Authority, the energy provider that powers the homes of some 10 million Tennesseeans.
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VW says the point of the drone is to “equip TVA test drivers for a number of real-world response scenarios,” though it doesn’t say what those scenarios are; I imagine the drone would be useful for inspecting damaged lines in Tennessee’s more rugged, difficult-to-access terrains.
The company does mention that the vehicle’s “roadside emergency lighting and side and rear-mounted floodlighting help responders when arriving on scene, while a full-display digital rearview mirror ensures optimal visibility for the vehicle’s operator;” this statement, along with the fact that the vehicle is kitted out with recovery boards and a fire extinguisher, indicates some kind of crisis response application.
It appears the drone is stored in a compartment in the rear, and that the orange pad up top is just a landing and take-off platform, as opposed to where the drone “lives.”
The vehicle will be on display at this year’s SEMA Show.
It’s early days yet for the vehicle-with-drone-buddy convention, but I have to think it will become commonplace in future, once the commercial benefits become clear. Americans might not care how their power lines are inspected, but if offered a drone that could pick up a McDonalds drive-thru order while your car is stuck in traffic, I think there’d be buyers aplenty.