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UPS becomes the the next participant in drone delivery

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【Summary】Last week, UPS kicked off trials of drone delivery — carrying a “mock” asthma inhaler in a small package, a CyPhy drone branded with UPS badging and colors successfully delivered the emergency medicine to the destination.

Original Claire    Oct 06, 2016 6:00 PM PT
UPS becomes the the next participant in drone delivery
Claire Pu

By Claire Pu

Although lots of start-ups and tech giants are already trying out drone delivery services, UPS as the traditional delivery mogul, has over 100,000 cars, vans, tractors and motorcycles in its fleet, combined with over 500 jets owned or chartered. But now UPS has finally entered the drone era.

Last week, UPS kicked off trials of drone delivery — carrying a "mock" asthma inhaler in a small package, a CyPhy drone branded with UPS badging and colors successfully delivered the emergency medicine to the destination.

CyPhy Works, founded in 2008, is a Massachusetts-based drone company that supplies both the hardware and software for drone operations. UPS became an investor and also a strategic partner of CyPhy in 2015, partici-pating in a $22 million round the company raised last October.

"Testing began on Thursday when the companies staged a mock delivery of urgently needed medicine from Beverly, Mass. to Children's Island, which is about three miles off the Atlantic coast. The drone flight advances an investment made by the UPS Strategic Enterprise Fund in CyPhy to gather information about drone uses and capabilities." According to UPS.

Since there are no roads or bridges connecting Children's Island to mainland, traditional delivery methods such as driving a car to even air delivery by man would be either impossible or costly. Especially under urgent condition, time and money are two crucial factors to consider, it's at such scenario that UPS tests out the just-in-time delivery.

The journey took about eight minutes. And the drone successfully delivered the inhaler to "a child who is attending a YMCA summer camp." If you're asking what UPS intended to do through its investment in CyPhy -- they want to use the company's drone technology to "assist with the UPS's humanitarian disaster relief efforts."

This test flight wasn't really done properly -- as it was executed prior to the issuance of new rules by the FAA for commercial drone use.

Originally released this past June, current FAA regulations dictate that non-commercial drones must weigh less than 55 pounds, can't be flown at night or at a height greater than 400 feet and must always remain within eye-sight of the drone operator. Some drone operators, including UPS, are now hoping to receive exemptions to some of these regulations.

According to Reuters, drone makers, retailers and package delivery companies are now angling for waivers, largely to operate out of the line of sight, using small tests to collect data on everything from air speed to operat-ing in bad weather and the frequency of accidents.

To obtain an FAA waiver exempting them from certain rules, companies must spell out a business case and use data to prove their drones are safe.

The FAA is said to be moving slowly to grant waivers to anyone, so it's worth anticipating to see how this will all play out.

Sources: TechCrunch, Popular Science, BGR


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