Being greeted by drivers in brown suits has become synonymous with receiving UPS-delivered packages. It’s a busy life for delivery truck drivers, but they soon could get some much-needed aerial support.
The company announced in a press release Tuesday that it’s successfully tested a drone that launches from a UPS vehicle, delivers a package and then returns to the vehicle; all while the driver continues on their scheduled delivery route. The company partnered with Ohio-based Workhorse Group, who developed the drone and the electric UPS vehicle used in the test.
It was only a test, but the technology has the chance to drastically improve the efficiency of the company’s delivery process.
“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,” Mark Wallace, UPS senior vice president of global engineering and sustainability, said in the release. “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.”
Some people believe that drones eventually could make delivery drivers obsolete, but UPS says the drivers aren’t going anywhere.
“Drivers are the face of our company, and that won’t change,” Wallace said. “What’s exciting is the potential for drones to aid drivers at various points along their routes.”
The drone, dubbed the Workhorse HorseFly, recharges while docked on the truck, has a 30-minute flight time and carry up to 10 pounds of cargo.
Thumbnail photo via UPS
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