UPS has performed several tests involving drones. But the Workhorse-designed UPS truck seems to be the most viable idea yet using an octocopter called the Workhorse HorseFly UAV Delivery system. A UPS driver inside the truck loaded a package into a cage and sent the drone on a preset route.
The drones are being tested with hopes of streamlining routes and increasing efficiency. Each drone would require a battery charge every 30 minutes (UPS cars would be able to charge designated drones so the drones would be able to continue on assigned routes), CNN Tech reported.
Delivery drones aren't expected to reach the mainstream for years, if they ever do, but that's not stopping many companies from testing out the new technology. Deliveries made in rural areas are considered the most expensive delivery routes.
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UPS says it hasn't calculated how much the potential shift could help cut costs, but estimates in general that reducing each driver's mileage by a mile a day could save $50 million a year.
UPS, the world's largest package delivery company, delivered a parcel via drone yesterday in a small town outside of Tampa, Fla. Just need one little sidekick drone buddy to make the workday run smoother. Unfortunately, UPS still needs to get approval from the FAA before we'll get drones dropping packages at our doorsteps and that could take a while. Instead of replacing drivers, drones would act as an augmenter, saving time and money. The drone dropped off a package at a home on the property, and returned to the truck, which had moved about 2,000 feet. "UPS has about 66,000 delivery drivers on the road each day", the company noted. "The drone is fully autonomous", said Stephen Burns, Workhorse founder and CEO.
Last September, UPS staged a mock delivery of urgently needed medicine from Beverly, Mass., to an island 3 miles off the Atlantic coast. Additionally, UPS is using drones extensively for humanitarian relief, partnering with third-party organizations to deliver life-saving blood and vaccines to hard-to-reach locations in Rwanda.
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The company also now uses drones to check inventory on high storage shelves in its warehouses, which is already legal to do.
Last month, Amazon said it successfully tested a drone delivery as part of its Prime Air program. Headquartered in Atlanta, UPS serves more than 220 countries and territories worldwide. Workhorse trucks have historically been sold to the largest fleets in the U.S. and Canada for last-mile delivery and related uses.
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