That's because that companion would be an autonomous delivery drone, a technology UPS and Workhorse Group are testing in rural residential areas with new brown trucks that house the flying machines. TechCrunch reports that a second test of the drone failed, with the drone aborting its own launch, falling over, and almost getting crushed. It's able to carry a package up to 10-pounds heavy, and recharges its battery whenever it's docked.
UPS is one of several e-commerce and delivery companies experimenting with drones as a way to reduce delivery times and access difficult-to-reach locations more efficiently. The company said a reduction of one mile per driver per day over a one-year period can save the company up to $50 million.
The folks at UPS said this week that they'd completed their first test of a drone launched from a truck. Using a drone to deliver one package as the driver delivers another would reduce travel time and emissions.
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"UPS is never looking to replace our UPS drivers", he said, calling them "the face of our company". Unfortunately, UPS still needs to get approval from the FAA before we'll get drones dropping packages at our doorsteps and that could take a while. The government is now using 15 "Zips" drones to make up to 150 emergency deliveries per day of life-saving blood to 21 transfusion facilities in the western half of the country.
To be clear, we're not now facing a UPS drone invasion with many multiples of autonomous flying machines attacking the USA.
After the flight, Stephen Burns, the CEO of Workhorse, told TechCrunch: "or the photographers, we tried to do a quick, augmented, non-traditional delivery and something went wrong". While UPS says this test does not demonstrate the end-all goal, it is "a possible role UPS envisions for drones in the future", he said. It doesn't require a pilot.
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In case you were wondering, UPS says that drivers don't have to worry about their jobs [for now], as the delivery drones would be deployed to make their jobs easier (and add to the company's bottom line).
Last September, UPS staged a mock delivery of urgently needed medicine from Beverly, Mass., to an island 3 miles off the Atlantic coast.
UPS' second drone mission comes as Amazon (AMZN, Tech30) invests heavily in building its own delivery network, including drones capable of dropping packages in customers' backyards. And, while the FAA has now ruled out drone delivery, UPS has been working with the administration as part of its advisory committee.
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UPS (NYSE:UPS) is a global leader in logistics, offering a broad range of solutions including transporting packages and freight; facilitating worldwide trade, and deploying advanced technology to more efficiently manage the world of business.