Prepare yourself - automation and robotic technologies are continuing their march (or in this case, flight) into our everyday lives.
UPS has conducted a successful drone test on Monday to let it assist in making non-urgent residential deliveries as part of the day-to-day operations.
The test, conducted on Monday in Tampa, Fla with Workhorse Group, utilised a drone that launches from the top of a UPS package car, 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 built the drone and the electric UPS package car used in the test.
"We are excited about this test and will continue to observe industry trends to see how we can increase operational efficiency and better serve our customers," said Steven Wong, managing director of UPS Hong Kong and Macau.
Mark Wallace, UPS senior vice president of global engineering and sustainability, added that the test is different from anything they've done with drones so far, as it has implications for future deliveries, especially in rural locations where package cars often have to travel miles to make a single delivery.
He explained that rural delivery routes are the most expensive to serve due to the time and vehicle expenses required to complete each delivery, yet in the test, the drone made one delivery while the driver continued down the road to make another, which makes it a possible role UPS envisions for drones in the future.
"Drivers are the face of our company, and that won’t change," Wallace said. "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."