International parcel shipping company UPS has ramped up its logistics strategy with the addition of drone delivery, but it insists the technology won’t replace the role of service providers.
The company announced today that it successfully completed its first drone delivery in Florida, North America.
The company is able to introduce unmanned aerial vehicles to its delivery service by launching the systems from retractable panels in the roof of the vans. Once launched the drone travels the last quarter mile to the destination with the parcel in tow.
The UAV system UPS deployed, HorseFly, was developed by WorkHorse as a delivery-specific model.
When the HorseFly UAV is in position above the destination, a remote observer is sent a video feed, which can be used to assess the safe completion of the delivery and make any small adjustments to the UAV position during drop-off, if needed.
Using this method, a single remote observer can efficiently monitor a fleet of many UAVs at once, since observation is only needed during the final descent and not during normal flight operations.
“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. “This will not replace our service providers.”