UPS Demonstrates Truck-Based Drone System for Rural Deliveries
System Designed to Reduce Costs, Improve Efficiency on Rural Routes
Since the inception of civilization, technology has been on a relentless forward march. Over the last several decades, it seems like the pace of technological progress and innovation has been on fast-forward. In the transportation sector, the two areas that have seen the most activity have been the development of autonomous car technology, and the development of commercial “drones” or unmanned small aircraft. This week, UPS demonstrated a combination truck/drone system developed in collaboration with Workhorse Group allowing drivers servicing rural routes to make more deliveries in a shorter period of time by employing both in-person and drone delivery.
The specially designed trucks have a docking port on the roof with an opening for the operator to load a package. Once loaded, the driver enters the destination information into a touchpad controller, a retractable cover on the roof opens, and the drone autonomously delivers the package to its destination and returns to the truck’s docking station once the delivery is completed. The drone can meet up with the truck as the driver continues deliveries along the route. The Workhorse “HorseFly” UAV octocopter drone has a total run time of 30 minutes and can carry packages up to 10 pounds.
UPS has been testing drone delivery on an experimental basis for several years, using the technology to deliver vaccines in remote areas in Rwanda. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued small unmanned aircraft guidelines and selected 35 stakeholders, UPS among them, to help guide the regulatory process for unmanned commercial aircraft as part of a drone advisory committee. You can watch a demonstration of UPS’s drone delivery system below.