UPS tested drone delivery in Lithia, Florida. They delivered a test package to a rural home. The drone took off from a modified UPS truck and returned to it after delivering the package. The senior vice president of global engineering at UPS describes the advantage of drone deliveries:
Imagine a triangular delivery route where the stops are miles apart by road. 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.
Last September, UPS delivered medicine to an island near Boston with a drone. These are the first steps toward wide-spread drone deliveries.
Here’s a video of the UPS drone delivery:
TechCrunch has more details. Workhorse Group Inc. is the company that built the UPS truck with a built-in drone launch pad. Their HorseFly UAV Delivery system is shown in the video. UPS purchased 350 of its electric hybrid trucks.
The drone has robotic arms that grab onto the roof when it lands. It can recharge while docked. The drone is lowered into the truck to receive packages. Here’s more details:
- 9.5 pounds
- Carbon fiber construction
- Lithium 18650 battery pack
- 30 minute flight time
- 45 mph top speed
- Carries up to 10 pounds
- ORION Guidance System with access to online databases (airspace, topographic, weather, and wind conditions) and on-board sensors (GPS compass, LIDAR, IR camera)