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UPS successfully tests drone deliveries with lorry-mounted octocopter

UPS has completed its first ever drone delivery in the US. The delivery firm used a lorry-mounted octocopter to dispatch a package to a blueberry farm outside Tampa, Florida. The drone launched itself off the lorry’s retractable roof with the package in tow, travelling around a quarter of a mile to drop it off at a house before returning to the vehicle, which in the meantime had been driven to a different location.

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The drone used in the test wasn’t actually developed by UPS, but by a company called Workhorse.

Named HorseFly, the drone carries parcels in a suspended cage, which can be reloaded each time it docks on the lorry. This is where it also recharges itself, through a connection between its arms and the lorry’s electric battery.

ups-drone-delivery-0.jpg

It weighs 9.5lb, and is capable of carrying a 10lb package and flying for up to 30 minutes at a time, at a top speed of 45 miles per hour. For the test, UPS had to follow current FAA rules, ensuring that the drone was within sight of a pilot at all times, but the company hopes to automatically determine routes using its On-Road Integrated Optimization and Navigation system in the future.

Drivers would be able to launch and recall them with the push of a button. “It really moves us into understanding how the technology can assist our service providers,” Mark Wallace, UPS’s senior vice president of global engineering and sustainability, told CNET[1]. “This will not replace our service providers.” Amazon is also working on a drone delivery system, which it has been testing a little closer to home, in Cambridge.

A recently discovered patent application revealed that the firm is considering equipping its autonomous delivery drones with parachutes[2], in order to help them tackle densely populated urban areas.

Reuse content[3]

References

  1. ^ CNET (www.cnet.com)
  2. ^ equipping its autonomous delivery drones with parachutes (www.independent.co.uk)
  3. ^ Reuse content (www.independent.co.uk)

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