UPS tests out drone deliveries over the Atlantic

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WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF

  • While some companies see drones as disruptive to their business others see them as a new opportunity, UPS is in the latter camp


 

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.

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.

 

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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.

 

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

Newly revised Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) 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 and UPS  isn’t the only company testing drones.

Wal-Mart is testing drones it says will help it manage its warehouse inventory more efficiently, Amazon.com is testing them for home delivery and even 7-Eleven got in on the act with the first FAA authorised drone delivery earlier this year.

About author

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin, described as “The Adviser behind the Advisers” and a “Young Kurzweil,” is the founder and CEO of the World Futures Forum and the 311 Institute, a global Futures and Deep Futures consultancy working between the dates of 2020 to 2070, and is an award winning futurist, and author of “Codex of the Future” series. Regularly featured in the global media, including AP, BBC, CNBC, Discovery, RT, and Viacom, Matthew’s ability to identify, track, and explain the impacts of hundreds of revolutionary emerging technologies on global culture, industry and society, is unparalleled. Recognised for the past six years as one of the world’s foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an international speaker who helps governments, investors, multi-nationals and regulators around the world envision, build and lead an inclusive, sustainable future. A rare talent Matthew’s recent work includes mentoring Lunar XPrize teams, re-envisioning global education and training with the G20, and helping the world’s largest organisations envision and ideate the future of their products and services, industries, and countries. Matthew's clients include three Prime Ministers and several governments, including the G7, Accenture, Bain & Co, BCG, Credit Suisse, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deloitte, E&Y, GEMS, Huawei, JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, Lego, McKinsey, PWC, Qualcomm, SAP, Samsung, Sopra Steria, T-Mobile, and many more.

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