Package delivery company UPS has joined the likes of Google and Mercedes Benz in the race to deliver parcels by drone.
The American company has worked with Workhorse, an Ohio-based battery-electric truck and drone developer, to trial the potential efficiencies that drones will provide on rural delivery routes.
The successful test saw UPS launch a HorseFly UAV Delivery system from the top of a moving car. It is a drone with eight propellers which can take off directly from a truck.
Flying from the roof of a truck
The rechargeable, battery-powered drone docks on the roof of the truck and extends through a hatch into the truck below where packages can be loaded.
It launches once the UPS driver presses a button on a touch screen inside the vehicle, sending the drone on a pre-set route to the delivery address while the driver continues along the route to make a separate delivery.
Unlike previous UPS drone tests, the most recent hints at how UPS may update their operations by using drones to make non-urgent, day-to-day residential deliveries.
“Sending a drone from a package car to make just one of those deliveries can reduce costly miles driven. This is a big step toward bolstering efficiency in our network and reducing our emissions at the same time,” says Mark Wallace, UPS senior vice president of global engineering and sustainability.
The HorseFly drone is a high-efficiency octocopter which has a 30 minute flight time and the ability to carry a package weighing up to 10 pounds.