In the future, UPS drivers could work with drones to make deliveries easier and quicker. The delivery company conducted a test in a small, unincorporated suburb of Tampa, Florida; it was primarily intended to show how drones could make deliveries more efficient in rural areas. For the test, the delivery company used a new electric delivery truck with a drone launchpad on top of it.
Big savings with drone deliveries
On Monday, the company tested drone deliveries, in which a driver loads a package into the cargo bin of the drone. Next, a portion of the truck’s roof slides open, allowing the drone to take off. Then the deliveryman drives to deliver another package after the drone is gone. After the package is delivered, the truck and the drone meet at a previously-chosen location, where the drone is loaded with a new package for delivery, explains CNN.
This process allows the delivery giant to save on fuel and deliver packages more efficiently. Use of drones for delivery could result in significant gains, especially in rural areas where deliveries are more spread out. According to UPS, it would save about $50 million per year if all its drivers had to cover one fewer mile per day.
The drone recharges its battery between flights while parked in the UPS truck. The battery lasts for 30 minutes. The drone tested by UPS is capable of carrying packages weighing up to 10 pounds. The drone is small enough to fit in the trunk of a sedan.
Will UPS ever use drones?
Will UPS ever deliver an actual package with a drone? There is no guarantee of it. In an interview with CNNTech, John Dodero, UPS’ vice president of industrial engineering, said the company relies on whether the automated drones can deliver safely. Dodero’s comments may be referring to the tests, which did mostly go as planned. However, during the test, one aircraft failed to launch properly and was nearly destroyed, notes the BBC.
Dodero said their goal is to have drones work on any type of vehicle, be it electric or gas-powered.
“That nest that we have on top of the car would be able to be put on any car, but we have to make sure it has the capabilities and it’s set up to do the charging,” he said.
The drone used by UPS is made by Ohio-based Workhorse Group Inc. Workhorse, which is already a supplier of UPS technology, builds batteries, commercial and hybrid electric trucks, and aerospace technologies as well. The delivery giant has already bought 350 of its electric hybrid trucks, 125 of which are already on the road, notes TechCrunch.