Updated Feb. 22, 2017 to include more specifics from UPS
UPS announced today
that on Feb. 20 it conducted a successful drone delivery with a truck-launching drone in Lithia, FL. Eyes were on the drone the entire flight, which UPS says took about three minutes for it to complete the less than a mile round trip delivery.
The company is no stranger to drone tech: it uses UAS to check inventory in its warehouses, staged a mock drone delivery last year, and is partnered with humanitarian drone startup Zipline
. It’s also a member of the FAA’s drone advisory committee
The drone used in this most recent test was the Workhorse HorseFly
: a carbon fiber octocopter that can fly for about 30 minutes, carry a package that weighs up to 10 pounds, and reach 50 mph.
“It’s wonderful to see this technology applied in such a practical way,” said Stephen Burns, Workhorse founder and CEO, in a statement. “The drone is fully autonomous. It doesn’t require a pilot. So the delivery driver is free to make other deliveries while the drone is away.”
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A cage sits beneath the HorseFly drone, which allows a UPS driver to load a package. Once the package is inside, the delivery driver simply presses a button on a touch screen that directs the drone to fly autonomously to its destination. While Workhorse preset the delivery route for this test, future routes could be input by UPS’s routing software (On-Road Integrated Opitmization and Navigation, also known as ORION).