UPS has begun testing the use of drones to make commercial deliveries. Working with drone-maker CyPhy Works, the companies staged a mock delivery on Sept. 23 of urgently needed medicine from Beverly, Mass. to Children’s Island, which is about three miles off the Atlantic coast.
UPS and CyPhy flew the PARC from Beverly to Children’s Island to test the viability of using the drone to make a time-critical delivery. In the mock scenario, the drone successfully carried an asthma inhaler to a child at a camp on the island, which is not reachable by automobile.
The CyPhy drone used in thetest is the Persistent Aerial Reconnaissance and Communications (PARC) system. The battery-powered drone flies itself, so very little user training is required. It is extremely durable, has night vision and features secure communications that cannot be intercepted or disrupted.
“Our focus is on real-world applications that benefit our customers,” said Mark Wallace, UPS senior vice president of global engineering and sustainability. “We think drones offer a great solution to deliver to hard-to-reach locations in urgent situations where other modes of transportation are not readily available.”>
The company has been experimenting with drones. It has been testing drones in warehouses to check high storage racks to confirm stock or available space. The company also is exploring the use of drones to deliver humanitarian aid in hard-to-reach parts of the world.
UPS said that the new rules issued last month by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that expanded the uses of drones in commercial applications are a "step in the right direction."