We may not have flying cars, but we could have flying packages very soon. In a recent test in a suburb of Tampa, UPS used a drone, launched from the top of an EV, to autonomously deliver a package and return to the vehicle, while the delivery driver continued along the route to make a separate delivery.
Ohio-based Workhorse Group (NASDAQ: WKHS) built the drone and the electric UPS package car used in the test. The Workhorse HorseFly is an octocopter delivery drone that’s integrated with Workhorse’s line of electric and hybrid trucks. The drone docks on the roof of the truck, and a cage suspended beneath the drone extends through a hatch into the truck. A UPS driver inside loads a package into the cage and sends the drone on a preset autonomous route to a nearby address. The HorseFly has a 30-minute flight time and can carry a package weighing up to 10 pounds.
“This test has implications for future deliveries, especially in rural locations where our package cars often have to travel miles to make a single delivery,” said Mark Wallace, UPS Senior VP of Global Engineering and Sustainability. “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.”
UPS has about 66,000 delivery drivers on the road each day, and their routes are optimized by the company’s ORION routing software. A reduction of just one mile per driver per day could save the company up to $50 million per year.
“Drivers are the face of our company, and that won’t change,” Wallace continued. “What’s exciting is the potential for drones to aid drivers at various points along their routes, helping them save time.”
Source: Workhorse Group