UPS seeks out Roomba-maker to help put delivery drones in the sky

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The trials kicked off on Thursday in Beverly, Massachusetts

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It's starting to feel a bit like if you are in the business of delivering items and aren't at least exploring airborne avenues, then you might soon be playing catch-up. Following the lead of Amazon, DHL and even retail chains like Dominos and 7-Eleven, global shipping giant UPS has partnered with drone-maker CyPhy Works to put aerial couriers to the test, with a particular focus on urgently-needed goods like medical supplies.

Following an investment in the startup last year, UPS announced today that it has sought out CyPhy Works' machines to see how it might bring more efficiency to its delivery process. CyPhy Works is the company behind the LVL 1 consumer drone we looked at last year, along with the tethered PARC system ordered by the US Army a couple of months back. But founder Helen Grainer's handiwork is perhaps best recognized in the shape of the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner.

The trials kicked off on Thursday in Beverly, Massachusetts, where a simulated mission saw an asthma inhaler delivered to a child at summer camp on Children's Island, located about 3 miles (4.8 km) off the coast. That particular location and route were chosen because of the poor accessibility and the fact that it could not be reached by car.

Using drones to overcome such logistical problems is something we are seeing the world over, from Germany, to Rwanda to the US. Though DHL has labeled the trial a success, aviation rules mean drone deliveries are a no-go in the US for now, so the company will need to wait for new laws to pass before it deploys its drones on any meaningful scale.

You can see the trial in action in the UPS video below.

Source: CyPhy Works

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