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UPS tests drone-based package deliveries

LBR Staff Writer Published 22 February 2017

Supply chain management solutions provider UPS has tested a drone that launches from a package vehicle and autonomously delivers a package to a home before returning to the truck.

UPS, along with battery-electric truck and drone developer Workhorse Group, has carried out the test in Lithia, Florida.

Workhorse’s HorseFly UAV delivery system is the drone used in the test, while UPS has provided the package car.

The drone launched from the top of a UPS package car has autonomously delivered a package to the home and returned to the vehicle, while the delivery driver continued to travel along the route to make a separate delivery.

HorseFly is an octocopter delivery drone, which is fully incorporated with Workhorse’s line of electric/hybrid delivery trucks.

The drone can dock on the roof of the delivery truck. A cage suspended under the drone extends through a hatch into the truck.

UPS said that its Orion on-road integrated optimization navigation routing software even if helped to reduce one mile per driver per day over one year can save around $50m for the company.

UPS global engineering and sustainability senior vice president Mark Wallace said: “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.

Workhorse founder and CEO Stephen Burns said: “The drone is fully autonomous. It doesn’t require a pilot. So the delivery driver is free to make other deliveries while the drone is away.”

Image: UPS has delivered a package through using Workhorse’s HorseFly drone launched from top of package vehicle. Photo: courtesy of United Parcel Service of America, Inc.