Milestone Trial of a Horsefly Residential Delivery Drone
Launched from the Top of a Workhorse UPS Hybrid Truck:
‘Incorporates Drone Delivery into Day-to-Day Delivery Operations’
UPS has successfully tested a UAV/unmanned aerial vehicle by Workhorse for rural residential package delivery service, launching the “Horsefly” drone from a battery electric truck, also supplied by Workhorse.
The drone “autonomously delivers a package to a home and then returns to the vehicle while the delivery driver continues along the route to make a separate delivery,” Workhorse says. The test took place in Lithia, Fla., southeast of Tampa.
“This test is different than anything we’ve done with drones so far,” UPS senior global engineering and sustainability VP Mark Wallace says in a joint release.
‘A Big Step Toward Bolstering Efficiency’
“It has implications for future deliveries,” he said, “especially in rural locations where our package cars often have to travel miles to make a single delivery.”
“Imagine a triangular delivery route where the stops are miles apart by road. Sending a drone from a package car to make just one of those deliveries can reduce costly miles driven.
“This is a big step toward bolstering efficiency in our network and reducing our emissions at the same time,” Wallace said.
“Unlike previous drone tests, UPS/Workhorse test incorporates drone delivery into day-to-day delivery operations,” the companies emphasized.
Workhorse-UPS: A Deepening Relationship
Workhorse this past fall reported a triple-digit follow-on order for its E-Gen plug-in hybrid electric vehicles from UPS (F&F, October 14, 2016).
Workhorse in fall 2015 reported U.S. Federal Aviation Administration clearance to test to Hosefly drone (F&F, October 14, 2015).
The firms noted yesterday that with ORION, UPS’s On-Road Integrated Optimization Navigation routing software, a reduction of just one mile per driver per day over one year can save as much as to $50 million. UPS has about 66,000 delivery drivers on the road each day. “Rural delivery routes are the most expensive to serve due to the time and vehicle expenses required to complete each delivery,” the release explains: the drone made one delivery while the driver continued down the road to make another.
‘Drones to Aid Drivers’
“This is a possible role UPS envisions for drones in the future.”
“What’s exciting is the potential for drones to aid drivers at various points along their routes,” Wallace said, “helping them save time and deliver on increasing customer service needs that stem from the growth of e-commerce.”
The Workhorse HorseFly is a high-efficiency, “octocopter” delivery drone, fully integrated with the Workhorse line of electric and PHEV delivery trucks. The HorseFly drone docks on the roof of the delivery truck. A cage suspended beneath the drone, extends through a hatch into the truck.
HorseFly Charges from the Electric Truck
The UPS driver inside loads a package into the cage and presses a button on a touch screen, sending the drone on a preset autonomous route to an address. The battery-powered HorseFly drone recharges while it’s docked. It has a 30-minute flight time and can carry a package weighing up to ten pounds.
“The drone is fully autonomous,” Workhorse founder and CEO Steve Burns says in the Tuesday announcement, “It doesn’t require a pilot,” he said, “so the delivery driver is free to make other deliveries while the drone is away.”
“It’s wonderful to see this technology applied in such a practical way.”
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Source: Workhorse & UPS with Fleets & Fuels follow-up