Package Delivery Drone May Be Test-Flown with University
Workhorse reports a Certificate of Authorization from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration allowing test flights of the battery electric “HorseFly” package delivery drone. The COA, Workhorse said today, was granted to the Ohio/Indiana UAS Center and Test Complex, allowing Workhorse and UC, the University of Cincinnati, to further develop the drone (also known as an Unmanned Aerial System).
Horsefly is designed to work in tandem with Workhorse battery electric delivery trucks, reducing driver workload.
HorseFly testing will take place at the Wilmington Air Park in Wilmington, Ohio. “Collaboration between the UC’s College of Engineering and Applied Science and the Ohio/Indiana UAS Center led to sponsorship for the two-year FAA authorization from the Ohio State Department of Transportation in addition to priority access to Wilmington Air Park,” states a Workhorse release.
The Horsefly UAS, an eight-rotor “octocopter,” will be evaluated in tandem with U.S. EPA-approved Workhorse electric work trucks. Weighing 15 pounds empty, HorseFly has a payload capacity of 10 pounds; it can achieve a maximum speed of 50 mph and a flight time of 30 minutes.
Drone Would Charge Off of the Battery Truck
The drone “is designed to be given a package and a delivery destination by a delivery driver, using a touchscreen interface in the delivery truck. The HorseFly has the ability to launch itself from the roof of the delivery vehicle and ascend to a safe cruising altitude and then navigate to the desired delivery point – say, a house’s front stoop – autonomously, using GPS navigation,” Workhorse says.
The technology allows the drone to reach the GPS delivery destination, as a human pilot in a remote location monitors the descent with a multi-camera video feed, and executes the package drop-off. The HorseFly can then ascend back to a safe cruising altitude, navigate to the new location of the delivery truck, where it can recharge its battery using the onboard battery of the electric vehicle.
Could Save Time and Money
The system has the potential to save delivery drivers the time and trouble of having to physically drop off each package, cutting the cost of delivery. Workhorse says it’s teamed with UC to develop all the systems necessary to execute precision takeoffs and landings in a variety of weather conditions.
“Obtaining this authorization from the FAA is a vital step forward in making our HorseFly drone a practical component of our package delivery system by testing the drone’s unmanned flying capabilities,” Workhorse CEO Steve Burns says in today’s announcement.
‘A Significant Improvement in Reducing Emissions’
“We believe the pairing of the HorseFly drone and the Workhorse electric vehicle may usher in a significant improvement in reducing emissions and improving the efficiency of the delivery process.”
“Workhorse Group is among a select few world-class leaders working to create the UAS revolution by demonstrating its advantages for a better future,” UC aerospace engineering chief Prof. Paul Orkwis says in the Workhorse announcement.
“We believe the HorseFly program represents a major innovation in this arena.”
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Source: Workhorse with Fleets & Fuels follow-up