UPS Tests Drones for Delivery of Emergency Medical Supplies

On Thursday September 22, delivery company UPS completed the first major commercial shipment via drone since the Federal Aviation Administration released new rules for commercial operations of unmanned aircraft systems. The shipping giant tested the use of drones for time-sensitive deliveries of medical supplies to remote locations.

According to Mark Wallace, UPS senior vice president of global engineering and sustainability,

“Our focus is on real-world applications that benefit our customers. We think drones offer a great solution to deliver to hard-to-reach locations in urgent situations where other modes of transportation are not readily available.”

In a mock emergency situation, UPS transported an inhaler from Beverley, Massachusetts to Children’s Island, which is not accessible by road or bridge. The test was completed in collaboration with CyPhy Works, a Boston-area drone startup in which UPS holds a stake. The CyPhy-UPS drone, called the Persistent Aerial Reconnaissance and Communications drone, autonomously completed the three mile delivery of the two pound package in approximately eight minutes.

The UPS delivery is part of an effort to obtain waivers from the FAA exempting them from certain regulations, including that drones must be operated within the line-of-sight of a human operator. Through small tests to obtain information about the frequency of accidents, air speed, and effects of different weather conditions, operators are hoping to prove drones to be safe and reliable and to underscore their consumer applications.

With this drone delivery, UPS is joining the likes of Amazon and Alphabet. FedEx, UPS’s main rival, announced that it is also developing a drone program. UPS is testing drones to check inventory in warehouses and to deliver humanitarian aid in hard-to-reach parts of the world like Rwanda. As these companies continue to conduct tests and collect data, they hope that regulation will evolve with technology.

Copyright: mimacz / 123RF Stock Photo

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Jake Steele is a sophomore at Georgetown University studying finance and management. During his time at Consumers’ Research, he has examined developing trends in finance and technology.

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