The world’s largest package delivery business United Parcel Service (NYSE:UPS) has successfully tested a residential drone delivery system for the first time. UPS issued a press release on Tuesday announcing that the test was carried out at a suburb of Tampa in Florida. The drone flew to a previously decided location, dropped the package, and then proceeded along the delivery route, much like what a delivery truck would do.
The drone, and the electric UPS car, from where the drone was operated, have both been developed by the Workhorse Group, which is based out of Indiana. The company manufactures electrically powered delivery and utility vehicles. Each of the drones they made for UPS can carry up to 10 pounds. Battery of the UPS drone that was used needs to be charged every 30 minutes. Once the drones are put into service, this can be done from the UPS cars, so that the flying machines can continue on their assigned routes.
Drone Launched From the Top of a Van
The release also said that the drone was launched from the roof of an electric delivery van. After the delivery, the drone was able to successfully return to the van and re-dock there. The van had already moved to a new location by that time, and the drone was able to detect this and re-dock successfully. It recharged when docked.
It was also revealed that a cage was suspended below the drone, which extended through a hatch into the van. The van’s driver loaded the package into this cage and pressed a button on a touch screen to send the drone.
Quick and Easy Charging is the Key to Success
Like Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), which wants to use drones for customer deliveries, UPS too has been aiming to do this for a while now. They have tested drones in the past as well, but this is the first time they were launched from the top of a van, which experts say is a key to success because the drones can be charged easily so they can continue. With current technology, most drones can work between 20 and 30 minutes. They need a lot of battery power.
UPS (NYSE:UPS) and Amazon aren’t the only businesses thinking of drone delivery. Domino’s have already used a drone to deliver pizza to a customer in New Zealand. The company wants to use these machines soon to deliver food in Germany, Japan, Belgium, France, Australia, and The Netherlands.