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UPS test truck launched autonomous delivery drone

By Chris Dawson February 21, 2017 - 5:51 pm

Almost everyone has been dismissive of drone technology talking about the limited range and the absence of landing places on most properties. UPS have just upped the stakes having successfully completed a drone delivery launched from a delivery truck which then proceeded to make another manned (or in this case womanned) delivery before retrieving the drone further along the route.

This test is different than anything we’ve done with drones so far. It has implications for future deliveries, especially in rural locations where our package cars often have to travel miles to make a single delivery. 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.
– Mark Wallace, UPS senior vice president of global engineering and sustainability.

Using a high-efficiency, octocopter delivery drone that 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.

Unlike all of the previous tests, this UPS drone test shows how drones might assist in making non-urgent residential deliveries as part of the day-to-day operation.

UPS conducted the test on Monday the 20th of February in Tampa, Florida with 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.

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