UPS tests drones for use in delivery system
MARBLEHEAD, Mass. — One of the world’s largest package delivery companies is stepping up efforts to integrate drones into its system.
UPS has partnered with robot-maker CyPhy Works to test the use of drones to make commercial deliveries to remote or difficult-toaccess locations.
The companies began testing the drones Thursday, when they launched one from the seaside town of Marblehead. The drone flew on a programmed route for 3 miles over the Atlantic Ocean to deliver an inhaler at Children’s Island.
The successful landing was greeted by jubilant shouts from CyPhy Works and UPS employees on the island to witness the test.
CyPhy Works founder Helen Greiner, who previously co-founded robotmaker iRobot, said the drone tests with UPS allow her company to gather engineering and cost informa- tion and then work with UPS to look at where drones can add the most value to UPS’ network.
But the robot-maker doesn’t see drones replacing trucks anytime soon.
“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 loca- tion,” Greiner said.
But revised federal aviation regulations don’t permit commercial drones to fly over people not involved in their operations and require them to remain within line of sight of their operators at all times, rendering commercial deliveries impossible.
Those restrictions aren’t keeping drone-makers and their partners from developing technology for commercial deliveries while they work with regulators to tweak existing rules.
UPS has partnered with robot-maker CyPhy Works to test the use of drones to make commercial deliveries of packages to remote or difficult-to-access locations.