UPS Plans On Launching Drones From Trucks To Complete Deliveries

By Edge Ison , Feb 22, 2017 02:59 AM EST

The use of drones to deliver packages is not a new concept with some companies already toying with the idea. UPS joins that group after it tested a delivery drone that launches from its truck.

Last Monday, Feb. 20, UPS conducted an experiment in which a residential delivery drone was launched from one of the company's trucks. The test, which was done on a blueberry farm just outside Tampa, FL., was done to see if a drone can successfully launch from a delivery truck, bring the package safely to its recipient, and return to dock in the truck.

The drone, a product of Workhorse Group Inc., successfully delivered the package right to the recipient's doorsteps and returned safely to the truck even after it moved to a different location from where it launched the drone. This means the driver of the van can launch the drone and drive on to deliver the next package. The drone, once it has delivered the package, will then follow the truck and dock. If this system will get the go-signal, a UPS employee can deliver two packages in the time it would take to deliver just one.

The drone in question is part of the Ohio-based company's new HorseFly UAV Delivery system. The Workhorse Group dwells on the development and manufacture of hybrid electric trucks and aerospace technology. It has supplied UPS with 350 electric hybrid trucks with 125 of them currently being used for deliveries. The diesel-electric hybrid truck used in the test was customized for the HorseFly drone delivery system.

The 9.5-pound UAV is docked just under the roof which retracts to let the drone fly out with the package. According to Tech Crunch, the drone is powered by 18650 battery pack which allows it to fly for up to 30 minutes at a time. It can go as fast as 45 miles per hour and carry up to 10 pounds.

There are some who have voiced their concerns with these kinds of advancement in technology particularly with relation to employment. Many fear that automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence will take over the workforce and leave humans jobless. UPS, for its part, will still depend on its human drivers to launch and recall the drones while also completing deliveries themselves.

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