BMT Sparrow: An autonomous device solving challenges in drone delivery

BTM Sparrow has been granted a patent by U.K. authorities.
Can Emir
BMT Sparrow
BMT Sparrow


The U.K. Intellectual Property Office has granted a patent to an innovation project called "BMT Sparrow" by BTM for its autonomous air-ground payload transfer device. The device offers a disruptive capability for drone delivery applications, particularly in delivering packages in complex environments.

BMT Sparrow addresses the problem of large and noisy delivery drones that have to land or hover low over the payload destination, posing potential hazards for people in sensitive and cluttered environments. The device differs from winch systems used in current drone delivery trials, which have poor payload control, particularly in windy conditions.

BMT Sparrow is located at the bottom end of the line with the payload and has its own power, sensors, and actuators. The device can autonomously control its descent using an internal drum and make precise horizontal adjustments using four small, quiet pusher fans. The larger delivery drone can remain higher at the destination, reducing noise and risk to people on the ground.

The BMT Sparrow device is much smaller than the drone. It does not require powerful lift-generating rotors, making it perfect for safe, precise, and quiet delivery in challenging or sensitive environments. Traditional delivery drones must carry heavy, high-capacity batteries and powerful rotors to generate the required lift, which makes them large, noisy, and potentially dangerous.

The new autonomous device can provide the full payload capacity of a large drone without the associated noise and risk to people on the ground. The BMT Sparrow device lowers itself and the payload at the bottom of a long, low-profile, weight-bearing line attached to the drone above. The device has an internally powered cable drum to control height, four small side-facing pusher fans for horizontal adjustments, and all the necessary sensors, power, and processing.

The BMT Sparrow concept allows the larger delivery drone to remain higher above the complex ground environment at the destination, offering a smaller, quieter physical presence and a safer, more precise delivery to a wider variety of locations, including confined spaces close to vertical surfaces and urban infrastructure. Safe, controlled delivery is possible using this approach from 200ft in windy conditions and 500-1000ft in light winds, with additional options for higher drops.

The autonomous BMT Sparrow device offers a solution to the challenges posed by traditional delivery drones, which require predictable open spaces and pose a risk to people and animals on the ground. The new device allows for safer and more precise deliveries in complex environments.

The company behind the innovation project has not been named, and it is unclear when the BMT Sparrow device will be available for commercial applications. However, the patent grant represents a significant milestone in the development of disruptive technologies for drone delivery.

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