Following the footsteps of Amazon, UPS is taking on drones.
The shipping giant successfully delivered a parcel via drone to a blueberry farm outside of Tampa on Monday.
UPS launched the drone using a delivery van with a retractable roof. The drone quickly made a drop-off at a home nearby and returned to the van, which had moved to another location to deliver a package. The van then latched onto the drone and docked it on its roof.
“This test is different than anything we’ve done with drones so far. It has implications for future deliveries, especially in rural locations where our package cars often have to travel miles to make a single delivery,” said Mark Wallace, UPS senior vice president of global engineering and sustainability. “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.”
Nearly 66,000 drivers hit the road each day to deliver shipments for the company. Wallace says drivers will remain the face of the company despite advancements in drone technology. “What’s exciting is the potential for drones to aid drivers at various points along their routes, helping them save time and deliver on increasing customer service needs that stem from the growth of e-commerce.”