Drone Truck Delivery Test: UPS has released a video showing a successful residential drone delivery experience. In the test, a UPS truck launched a drone that delivered a package and then returned to the truck after it had already gone down its route.
Built-in a small, unincorporated suburb of Tampa, Florida, the test drone was built with electric vehicle manufacturer Workhorse. The drone, called Horsefly, was in the air when the truck moved, which is why the UPS drone stands out in the increasingly crowded field of drone delivery. Direct competitor DHL has already started a drone delivery to a small German city, and both Alphabet and Amazon have completed similar tests.
A moving truck, though, makes UPS‘ approach unique. Most drone-based deliveries that have been attempted so far have involved drones originating from their own processing centers. While Alphabet’s drone delivered burritos from a food truck, it did so while remaining stationary. The Horsefly drone had a predetermined route, but UPS notes that future routes could be determined by the company’s proprietary routing software, On-Road Integrated Optimization, and Navigation (ORION).
“It’s amazing to see this technology applied in such a practical way,” said Stephen Burns, founder, and CEO of WorkHorse. “The drone is completely autonomous. It doesn’t need a pilot. So the delivery driver is free to make another delivery while the drone is away.”
As with all drone-based delivery systems, the actual application is probably years away. But if nothing else, this UPS test at least shows that there are still unique ideas about how to approach it.