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UPS Testing Drone Deliveries In Florida

UPS Testing Drone Deliveries In Florida

UPS has been working with drones for years, often to assist medical organizations, but this is the first time they've been able to test the technology in a daily scenario. In effect, UPS wants to turn their delivery trucks into drone motherships.

On Monday, shipping and logistics giant UPS performed its first test of a drone delivery, launching the autonomous copter from the roof of one of its shipping trucks. The octocopter delivered its payload at a home on the property and then flew back to the truck, which had moved down the road to allow its driver to make another delivery.

What's more, UPS and Workhorse point out that, right now, the drone technology is best-suited for sparsely-populated environments, as more densely-populated environments present more hazards for the drone; UPS says their drone-delivery plans right now only include rural environments.

Imagine a triangular delivery route where the stops are miles apart by road, he said.

The use of drones could increase efficiency by reducing miles driven by trucks, especially in rural areas, the company said in a press release.

The test shows how drones could help in making non-urgent residential deliveries as part of day-to-day operations.




United Parcel Service tested a drone that delivered a package about a quarter of a mile from the top of a truck to a blueberry farm outside of Tampa, Fla.

The UPS test used Workhorse's HorseFly UAV delivery system. In between deliveries, the battery-powered drone recharges.

"Our drivers are the face of our company", Dodero said.

After the flight, Stephen Burns, the CEO of Workhorse, told TechCrunch: "or the photographers, we tried to do a quick, augmented, non-traditional delivery and something went wrong". In the future, the drone system could be optimized to work with UPS's ORION navigation system instead of the system from Workhorse. It doesn't require a pilot.

In Monday's test in Florida, the drone used a preset route to deliver the package, but, in the future, UPS said it could use its existing software to route the drone. Those companies and others still must overcome significant regulatory hurdles before delivery-by-drone becomes the norm. In September it stated a mock delivery from Beverly, Mass.to an island off the Atlantic coast, over open water.

UPS is on an FAA stakeholders advisory committee, a group of businesses trying to influence the way the federal government restricts drone use. UPS also is utilizing drones to check inventory on high storage shelves in its warehouses.

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