The idea of Amazon delivery drones has spiked a delivery drone war all across. A lot of companies are considering the use of delivery drones to reduce both the travel costs and the delivery time. The global shipping company UPS has recently partnered with Workhorse Group which is an Ohio-based company that develops electric trucks and drones.
The company tested a drone that can be launched from the roof of the delivery truck, to cater to the stops that are out-of-the-way. The driver then continued on her path and completed the deliveries by road. In all previous tests by different companies, the drones were launched from a fixed base. The UPS trial makes the launchpad mobile, making the delivery cost-efficient by saving the driver from going out-of-the-way to deliver goods.
UPS senior vice president of global engineering and sustainability Mark Wallace says,
“This test is different than anything we’ve done with drones so far. It has implications for future deliveries, especially in rural locations where our package cars often have to travel miles to make a single delivery. Imagine a triangular delivery route where the stops are miles apart by road. Sending a drone from a package car to make just one of those deliveries can reduce costly miles driven.”
The drone delivery is particularly useful in rural areas to which the travel is the most expensive, as the stops are miles apart. According to an estimate by UPS, the company can save up to $50 million per year, just by cutting a driver’s route by a mile.
The first successful test of the delivery drone was conducted in Lithia, Florida. The specially developed HorseFly delivery drone is an octocopter, capable of carrying a weight of 4.5 kg for a flight time of 30 minutes. The drone is docked at the roof of the delivery truck where it also gets charged when not in use. A cage suspended below the drone carries the packages. The autonomous drone is set to reach the delivery address via a touchscreen.
The drone traveled on a preset path to reach the address, but when the system gets fully deployed, it will use On-Road Integrated Optimization Navigation (ORION) routing software to plot its route.
Here is a video of the first test of the residential delivery drone.
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