UPS successfully tests drone deliveries with lorry-mounted octocopter
UPS has completed its first ever drone delivery in the US.
The delivery firm used a lorry-mounted octocopter to dispatch a package to a blueberry farm outside Tampa, Florida.
The drone launched itself off the lorry’s retractable roof with the package in tow, travelling around a quarter of a mile to drop it off at a house before returning to the vehicle, which in the meantime had been driven to a different location.
The drone used in the test wasn’t actually developed by UPS, but by a company called Workhorse.
Named HorseFly, the drone carries parcels in a suspended cage, which can be reloaded each time it docks on the lorry.
This is where it also recharges itself, through a connection between its arms and the lorry’s electric battery.
It weighs 9.5lb, and is capable of carrying a 10lb package and flying for up to 30 minutes at a time, at a top speed of 45 miles per hour.
For the test, UPS had to follow current FAA rules, ensuring that the drone was within sight of a pilot at all times, but the company hopes to automatically determine routes using its On-Road Integrated Optimization and Navigation system in the future.
Drivers would be able to launch and recall them with the push of a button.
“It really moves us into understanding how the technology can assist our service providers,” Mark Wallace, UPS’s senior vice president of global engineering and sustainability, told CNET. “This will not replace our service providers.”
Amazon is also working on a drone delivery system, which it has been testing a little closer to home, in Cambridge.