UPS has successfully tested a drone that launches from an electric van, delivers a package, and then returns to the vehicle. Drones could make last-mile delivery more efficient, especially in rural areas.
Global shipping giant UPS has teamed with Ohio-based electric truck and dronedeveloper Workhorse Group to trial of a drone.
The trial system used Workhorse HorseFly drones that were integrated into the top of standard UPS vans. The drones, which recharge automatically when docked, can fly for about 30 minutes and carry a payload of up to 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms). The UPS van driver loads a package into a special compartment, which the drone then transports to its final destination – while the driver continues along his or her route.
This test is different than anything we’ve done with drones so far,” says Mark Wallace, UPS senior vice president of global engineering and sustainability. “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.”
Next time you’re waiting on a delivery from UPS, you might want to look to the sky rather than your driveway. The company with the big brown vans is testing a drone delivery system that could save UPS lots of money on deliveries to rural areas in the U.S.
During the test, Sid Perrin drove through a rural neighborhood in a UPS van with a strange lump on the roof. Rather than walking up the long driveway, she parked the car and placed a package in the center of the drone. Sitting in the driver’s seat, she tapped a command on a touch screen. The roof of the truck went down, the drone took flight, and Perrin drove down the road to her next destination.