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February 25, 2022

The Dallas Flyer Episode 9: Designing the Perfect Hook

  • , Drone delivery
  • , United States

 

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This post was originally part of our Dallas Flyer email newsletter. You can read other entries here or subscribe to receive future email updates here.


from: Jacob <howdy@wing.com>

to: Wing Early Flyers

date: February 22, 2022

subject: Designing the perfect hook

Soon, we’ll mark 10 years since Wing started designing delivery drones, which is a big chunk of time to spend on such a tiny aircraft. But the truth is, when it comes to our engineering philosophy, no detail is too small.

Today, I wanted to share one of my favorite news articles that’s ever been written about Wing. Not because it celebrated some huge milestone, but because it gives readers a glimpse into the day-to-day struggle that comes with designing new technology (followed by the occasional ah-ha moment).

I recommend reading the whole article (first published by Wired in 2018) here. It’s all about the 2.5-inch plastic hook at the end of the tether that retracts from our drones. This hook is what allows us to easily attach packages to aircraft, so they can be hoisted into the air and secured in place during flight. It’s also how the packages are lowered back down to the ground at the customer’s home, and released at the exact right moment every time.

If designing that device sounds simple, I promise it wasn’t. Our team of engineers obsessed over this challenge, and ultimately found an elegant solution. 

As Wired reporter Alex Davies recounted in 2018:

“And so they began designing the perfect hook, something so simple it couldn’t possibly fail. The thing just had to hold the package on the way down, unhook when it reached the ground, then come back up. Once again, what sounded easy proved baffling.”

I highly recommend giving the article a read. I think you’ll walk away with a better understanding of our team at Wing, and a greater appreciation for the complexity involved in building tiny aircraft.