UPS tests van-top delivery drone

It then followed a predetermined autonomous route while the driver continued to another destination to make another delivery.

The drone was mounted on the top of a delivery truck.

"While the drone is making its delivery, the driver would continue to the next stop, make another delivery by hand, and the drone would then rendezvous and recharge on top of the UPS package auto", he said. With regulatory hurdles likely to hinder the introduction of any drone delivery efforts in urban areas for the foreseeable future, having a drone launch from a truck in rural locations - as opposed to from fixed-location fulfillment centers à la Amazon - seems like a more realistic option for now. It can go as fast as 45 miles per hour and carry up to 10 pounds.

UPS estimates that reducing the distance its truck drive by just one mile per driver per day over one year could save the company up to $50 million.

UPS has successfully tested a car-based drone, the parcel service says. The technology still needs fine tuning as UPS is aiming to use drones to deliver packages and then return back to delivery van even as the van moves in the region for other deliveries.

Imagine a triangular delivery route where the stops are miles apart by road, he said.

The drone recharges while docked and can fly for 30 minutes at a time before needing to recharge.

It was launched from the roof of a modified UPS truck and automatically returned to the vehicle after making its drop-off. "So the delivery driver is free to make other deliveries while the drone is away", said Stephen Burns, Workhorse founder and CEO.

"We're studying and understanding the opportunities that this will provide for us", said Mark Wallace, UPS senior vice president of global engineering and sustainability. Meanwhile the driver was able to take on a separate delivery route. There's no indication if or when this type of delivery method could be integrated into real-world workforces, but it certainly seems like a solid idea that could help reduce emissions from delivery trucks. Currently, the release said, there are roughly 66,000 drivers on the road for UPS, and the company sees drones as a complement, not a replacement, for those drivers. UPS uses drones for checking inventories on the higher shelves in its warehouses.

  • Carolyn Briggs