Drones

UPS tests truck-launchable delivery drones

UPS has conducted a field trial of a delivery drone that launches from the roof of a UPS truck
UPS has conducted a field trial of a delivery drone that launches from the roof of a UPS truck
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UPS has conducted a field trial of a delivery drone that launches from the roof of a UPS truck
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UPS has conducted a field trial of a delivery drone that launches from the roof of a UPS truck
The roof slides back to allow the drone to launch
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The roof slides back to allow the drone to launch
The drone would recharge when docked on the truck's roof
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The drone would recharge when docked on the truck's roof
The Workhorse HorseFly octocopter delivery drone is launched on its way
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The Workhorse HorseFly octocopter delivery drone is launched on its way
Driver's would load the drone via a cage suspended from the bottom of the drone that extends down into the rear of the truck
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Driver's would load the drone via a cage suspended from the bottom of the drone that extends down into the rear of the truck

There's no shortage of companies looking to deliver goods to consumers via drone in an effort to cut costs and waiting times. Having previously partnered with drone maker CyPhy Works to test the potential of aerial couriers, global shipping giant UPS has now teamed with Ohio-based electric truck and drone developer Workhorse Group to trial a drone that launches from the roof of a delivery truck. The idea is that the drone can handle out-of-the-way stops, while the driver continues making other deliveries by road.

Where previous drone delivery trials we've looked at have seen drones launching from a fixed base of operations, the UPS trial makes the launch pad mobile in the form of the roof of a delivery truck. The idea is that such a system would enable drivers to send the drone and its cargo to a customer whose house would otherwise take the driver out of their way, such as in rural areas, thereby allowing the truck to continue on their way making other more direct deliveries.

The Workhorse HorseFly octocopter delivery drone is launched on its way
The Workhorse HorseFly octocopter delivery drone is launched on its way

"This test is different than anything we've done with drones so far," says Mark Wallace, UPS senior vice president of global engineering and sustainability. "It has implications for future deliveries, especially in rural locations where our package cars often have to travel miles to make a single delivery. 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."

UPS calculates that cutting a driver's route by just one mile (1.6 km) a day would save the company up to US$50 million a year and would be beneficial on rural delivery routes, which are more expensive and take longer than deliveries in built-up areas.

The test, which was conducted this week in Lithia, Florida, involved a Workhorse HorseFly octocopter delivery drone docked to the roof of one of Workhorse's line of electric/hybrid delivery trucks. The HorseFly drone can carry packages weighing up to 10 lb (4.5 kg) and has a 30-minute flight time. It also recharges when docked on the truck's roof.

Driver's would load the drone via a cage suspended from the bottom of the drone that extends down into the rear of the truck
Driver's would load the drone via a cage suspended from the bottom of the drone that extends down into the rear of the truck

A UPS driver loads packages into a cage suspended beneath the drone that reaches down through a hatch in the roof into the rear of the truck. Once loaded up, the driver can send the drone on its autonomous way to the delivery address via a touchscreen. For the test, the route was preset, but it is anticipated UPS's On-Road Integrated Optimization Navigation (ORION) routing software would plot the route when the system was put into actual use.

"The drone is fully autonomous," says Stephen Burns, Workhorse founder and CEO. "It doesn't require a pilot. So the delivery driver is free to make other deliveries while the drone is away."

The first video below shows how the system works, while the second is a 360-degree video giving a drones-eye-view of the field test.

Source: UPS

UPS Tests Residential Delivery Via Drone

UPS Tests Residential Delivery Via Drone – 360

2 comments
Wolf0579
Corporations are just DYING to replace those troublesome human workers.... It's too bad the consumer can't just boycott all corporations in return... at least until all consumers have been fired and can't AFFORD anything produced by the corporations.
chase
I fly quads etc. From small to big. Imho unmanned delivery for consumer based businesses is a novel idea in a Fantasia sense. One side threw tons of hype in the peverbial fan about mid air crashes, falling from the sky crashes, your daughter being filmed with a kini on, and invasion of privacy which so many idiots bit into and swallowed by the tabloid hungry public. Which most know stemmed from those doing something they didn't want to get caught at doing by a hard to see flying video camera. Then you got the same idiots saying shoot them out of the air of you do see them flying overhead. Heck, even got the morons thinking anti done net gear, and anti done drones. Anyway... So UPS sends up your package, and it flies over Oscar Myer dumping blood into a river and they got a Senator to pass a law that says they have the right to shoot down a UAV on the right to privacy issue. So they pull out a shot gun and how the thing out of the sky. Now that may seem far-fetched... But you know it's going to happen. The only time I could see drone delivery as truly useful is for extremely hard to reach areas. And circumstances. And for that you need much longer fight times. And most importantly. A trusted delivery source. Think about it... Some kid sitting in his back yard sees this thing flying to make a delivery... It's about to leave it's package... You seriously think that things going to make it back? Heck of be hard pressed not to want to grab the thing by the landing gear and keep it for my own. What's that going to cost UPS per drone? And what could they say? Gee we sent a drone to deliver the package to your address, it never returned... Ummmm... We know you have it give it back?!?. Not going to happen. Using one to send insulin up Mount Everest... Or a communication device to a lost person on the woods... Okay that's realistic delivery. Everyday packages... Pizza... Etc etc. Naah... It's a waste in so many ways of so many things.