UPS drone launched from truck on delivery route

The folks at UPS said this week that they'd completed their first test of a drone launched from a truck. Of course this isn't the first time any drone has been launched from a truck, but it is the first time that a UPS drone has launched from a UPS truck with a delivery. This same drone delivered said package and returned to the truck while the driver continued on with their daily route.

To be clear, we're not currently facing a UPS drone invasion with many multiples of autonomous flying machines attacking the USA. Instead, this week's announcement from UPS only indicates that they've begun tests and that at least one test was successful. Unlike previous drone tests, suggested UPS, this test incorporated drone delivery into day-to-day delivery truck operations.

UPS is working with the team at Workhorse Group to make this drone delivery operation a reality. Workhorse Group specializes specifically in making truck-launched drones. "The drone is fully autonomous," said Stephen Burns, Workhorse founder and CEO. "It doesn't require a pilot. So the delivery driver is free to make other deliveries while the drone is away."

That's most important to the workers in this situation is the fact that these drones will not replace them. "Drivers are the face of our company, and that won't change," said Mark Wallace, UPS senior vice president of global engineering and sustainability. "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."

To accomplish this mission, UPS used a Workhorse HorseFly UAV Delivery system in their first truck-launched drone delivery. This drone is able to fly for a cool 30-minutes at a time when fully charged. It's able to carry a package up to 10-pounds heavy, and recharges its battery whenever it's docked.

How does a UPS drone deliver packages?

1. Drone docks on delivery truck roof.

2. Drone cage extends through hatch in truck roof.

3. UPS driver loads package into cage.

4. UPS driver presses button on touch screen.

5. Drone cage lifts up, drone flies to destination.

UPS has not said when they plan on rolling out drone delivery to the United States. At this time the company remains in live test stages. Have a peek at the timeline below for additional instances of UPS pushing into the future with drone deliveries.