Sept 26, 2016: Logistics giant UPS has begun testing the use of drones to make commercial deliveries of packages to remote or difficult-to-access locations, working together with drone-maker CyPhy Works.
Testing began on last Thursday when the companies staged a mock delivery of urgently needed medicine from Beverly, Mass. to Children’s Island, which is about three miles off the Atlantic coast.
The CyPhy drone used in the test is the Persistent Aerial Reconnaissance and Communications (PARC) system. The battery-powered drone flies itself, so very little user training is required. It is extremely durable, has night vision and features secure communications that cannot be intercepted or disrupted.
UPS and CyPhy flew the PARC from Beverly to Children’s Island to test the viability of using the drone to make a time-critical delivery. In the mock scenario, the drone successfully carried an asthma inhaler to a child at a camp on the island, which is not reachable by automobile.
The drone flight advances an investment made by The UPS Strategic Enterprise Fund in CyPhy to gather information about drone uses and capabilities.
“Our focus is on real-world applications that benefit our customers,” said Mark Wallace, UPS senior vice president of global engineering and sustainability.
“We think drones offer a great solution to deliver to hard-to-reach locations in urgent situations where other modes of transportation are not readily available.”
Last month, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), issued new rules that expanded the uses of drones in commercial applications. Operators must adhere to important safety regulations. UPS believes these new rules are a step in the right direction. With the recent appointment of Captain Houston Mills, UPS Airlines’ director of safety, to the FAA’s new drone advisory committee, UPS intends to keep working closely with regulators to stay on the right path.
UPS has also been testing drones in warehouses to check high storage racks to confirm stock or available space. The company also is exploring the use of drones to deliver humanitarian aid in hard-to-reach parts of the world.