UPS Testing Drones for Use in Its Package Delivery System

One of the world’s largest package delivery companies is stepping up efforts to integrate drones into its system.

UPS has partnered with robot-maker CyPhy Works to test the use of drones to make commercial deliveries to remote or difficult-to-access locations.

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The companies began testing the drones on Thursday, when they launched one from the seaside town of Marblehead. The drone flew on a programmed route for 3 miles over the Atlantic Ocean to deliver an inhaler at Children’s Island.

The successful landing was greeted by jubilant shouts from CyPhy Works and UPS employees on the island to witness the test.

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

CyPhy Works founder Helen Greiner, who previously co-founded robot-maker iRobot, said the drone tests with UPS allow her company to gather engineering and cost information and then work with UPS to look at where drones can add the most value to UPS’ extensive network.

Still, the robot-maker doesn’t see drones replacing delivery trucks, bikes, buggies or gondolas anytime soon.

“Drones aren’t going to take the place of all delivery, but there are places where you have inaccessible location, an emergency situation where the infrastructure is down, you want or need the package quickly — these are the areas where drones will be the best way to get a package to a location,” Greiner said.

It’s not all clear skies for drones, though.

Newly revised federal aviation regulations don’t permit commercial drones to fly over people not involved in their operations and require them to remain within line of sight of their operators at all times, effectively rendering commercial deliveries impossible. But those restrictions aren’t keeping drone-makers and their partners from racing to develop technology suitable for commercial deliveries while they work with regulators to tweak existing rules.

4 thoughts on “UPS Testing Drones for Use in Its Package Delivery System

  1. Oh great. Now you just know some moron in USPS upper management will get the same idea. I can see it now – drones getting shot down in the southern states, which I do not oppose, stolen, misdelivered packages because they use the same GPS data our scanners operate on, meaning a drone can fly your priceless Ming vase to a house three blocks away and drop it on the concrete driveway.
    Today my office had a bunch of simultaneous LLV breakdowns, and the private garage who does the repairs couldn’t find the gas tank without help. We are sick of these beat up pieces of ugly shit. Doesn’t anybody in management feel any embarrassment seeing this LLV’s with the decals faded, scratched off, gray primer showing through, the worn out tires because the axles don’t align properly, and banged up beyond recognition? Obviously not. I maintain that while the retirement prefunding is a handy excuse, and a valid one, I suppose, that if the USPS hadn’t mishandled the rest of the business over time, we would have been able to replace these death traps years ago.
    I would love to take somebody from L’Infant Plaza and make them ride around in the back end of my LLV in the heat and humidity of late June where I live, or perhaps go with somebody in Florida on a driving route. It gets up to 130 degrees in the back end, yet we can get chewed out for taking a heat break. Of course, if it isn’t picture postcard perfect, 72 degrees, sunny, etc., you won’t see them outside.

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