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A Step Closer to Parts Delivery by Drone

24 February 2017 | Updated 01 January 1970
 

UPS has said it has successfully tested a drone that launches from the top of a UPS van, autonomously delivers a package and then returns to the vehicle while the delivery driver continues along the route to make a separate delivery.

The BBC, however, reported that the test had not been clitchless.

UPS conducted the test on Monday in Florida with the Workhorse Group an Ohio based battery-electric truck and drone developer. Workhorse built the drone and the electric UPS package car used in the test.

“This test is different than anything we’ve done with drones so far. It has implications for future deliveries, especially in locations where our package cars often have to travel miles to make a single delivery,” said Mark Wallace, UPS senior vice president of global engineering and sustainability. “Imagine a triangular delivery route. Sending a drone from a package car to make just one of those deliveries can reduce costly miles driven. This is a big step toward bolstering efficiency in our network and reducing our emissions at the same time.”

A reduction of just one mile per driver per day over one year can save UPS up to $50 million. In this test, the drone made one delivery while the driver continued down the road to make another. This is a possible role UPS envisions for drones in the future.

The drone used was the Workhorse HorseFly UAV Delivery system. It is a high-efficiency, octocopter delivery drone that is fully integrated with Workhorse’s line of electric/hybrid delivery trucks. The drone docks on the roof of the delivery truck. A cage suspended beneath the drone, extends through a hatch into the truck. A UPS driver inside loads a package into the cage and presses a button on a touch screen, sending the drone on a preset autonomous route to an address. The battery-powered HorseFly drone recharges while it’s docked. It has a 30-minute flight time and can carry a package weighing up to 10 pounds.

Picture: The UPS/Workhorse drone. The BBC said there were two drones used in the test and one failed to deploy successfully and was damage beyond repair

Article written by Robin Snow | Published 24 February 2017

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