Efforts at flying packages to its customers by the process of integrating drones into its system is being stepped up by one of the world’s largest package delivery companies.
As a first step towards this aim and to seriously try out the possibility of test using of drones to make commercial deliveries to remote or difficult-to-access locations, UPS has partnered with robot-maker CyPhy Works to take the plan forward.
The tow companies launched one from the seaside town of Marblehead as they began testing the drones on Thursday. The first test flight was a success as an inhaler at Children’s Island was delivered successfully as a drone flew on a programmed route for 3 miles over the Atlantic Ocean to make the delivery.
CyPhy Works and UPS employees who had gathered on the island to witness the test greeted the successful landing with jubilant shouts.
“I thought it was fantastic,” said John Dodero, UPS vice president for industrial engineering.
CyPhy Works hopes to work with UPS to look at where drones can add the most value to UPS’ extensive network after gathering data about engineering and cost information from the drone tests with UPS which will allow the company to gather the data, said the company’s founder Helen Greiner, who previously co-founded robot-maker iRobot.
Despite this delivery trucks, bikes, buggies or gondolas being replaced by drones anytime soon is not visualized by the robot-maker.
“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.
However, it’s not all clear skies for drones.
There are some tough regulations that are still impending on the regular use for drones to fly in packages. Commercial deliveries have essentially been made impossible by the regulations that requires the drones to remain within line of sight of their operators at all times, and another regulations that mandates that drones used for commercial purposes cannot fly over people not involved in their operations. These regulations have been newly revised and imposed by the U.S. federal aviation regulations.
However, while drone-makers and their partners work with regulators to tweak existing rules, they are also speeding up the race to develop technology suitable for commercial deliveries and do not seem to be discouraged by those restrictions.
And therefore United Parcel Service, based in Atlanta, isn’t the only company testing drones. While Amazon.com is testing them for home delivery of goods, Wal-Mart is testing drones it says will help it manage its warehouse inventory more efficiently.
Drones capable of streaming reconnaissance data that can’t be intercepted, jammed or spoofed, the drones are manufactured by CyPhy Works, based in Danvers, are tethered surveillance drones capable of remaining airborne for hours.
(Adapted from CNBC)