UPS Testing Using Drones For Package Deliveries In Remote Locations

Image courtesy of UPS

Whether it’s robotic carrier pigeons or unmanned aircraft dropping off burritos, drones are big in the delivery world. UPS is the latest company to take to the drone-filled skies and see if the aerial vehicles are the right fit for its delivery system.

UPS is teaming up with a robotics company called CyPhy Works to test using the drones to make commercial package deliveries to places that aren’t so easy to reach, the company announced today.

The first test drone launched on Thursday, with a drone taking off from Marblehead, MA, and flying a programmed route for three miles over the Atlantic Ocean to drop off an inhaler at Children’s Island.

The drone landed successfully, much to the delight of UPS and CyPhy folks gathered on the island to witness, the Associated Press reports.

“I thought it was fantastic,” John Dodero, UPS vice president for industrial engineering, told the AP.

No matter how great tests go, there are still obstacles to drone deliveries: Federal Aviation Administration regulations don’t allow commercial drones to fly over any humans not involved in operating them, and requires them to stay within line of sight of their pilots at all times. That makes it kind of tough for your average company like Amazon to make commercial deliveries.

But while those companies work with regulators to tweak the rules, companies like UPS and others are likely going to stay busy testing drones so they’re ready for the big time.

“Our focus is on real-world applications that benefit our customers,” said Mark Wallace, UPS senior vice president of global engineering and sustainability in a press release. “We think drones offer a great solution to deliver to hard-to-reach locations in urgent situations where other modes of transportation are not readily available.”