In the near future, your UPS deliveries may come from the sky.
UPS has teamed with German company Wingcopter to develop package delivery drones for use in the United States and beyond. It’s part of their UPS Flight Forward program which focuses on expanding drone delivery technology for a wide variety of applications.
Wingcopter’s drones are pretty unique. They perform vertical takeoffs and landings in tight spaces and then transition to efficient, high-speed horizontal flight. Capable of flying at up to 150 mph, the drones have a range of about 75 miles. They can stay on course in heavy winds and adverse weather.
These capabilities make the drone perfect for delivering packages in almost any type of environment. This would allow UPS to go beyond typical retail package delivery into industries such as medical, high tech, manufacturing, hospitality, and entertainment.
“Drone delivery is not a one-size-fits-all operation,” said Bala Ganesh, vice president of the UPS Advanced Technology Group. “Our collaboration with Wingcopter helps pave the way for us to start drone delivery service in new use-cases. UPS Flight Forward is building a network of technology partners to broaden our unique capability to serve customers and extend our leadership in drone delivery.”
UPS Began Operating Drone Delivery Last Year
UPS began operating commercial drone delivery flights last year inside their network. They started with a delivery service at WakeMed’s flagship hospital and campus in Raleigh, N.C. Since then, the company has delivered thousands of medical samples via drones, supplementing their ground courier service. The company plans to explore expanding its drone delivery to more healthcare campuses and in residential settings.
Last year the company received the U.S. government’s Standard Part 135 certification to operate a drone airline and has also completed drone deliveries under the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s Part 107 rules within the FAA’s Integration Pilot Program.
Wingcopter Has Delivered Medicine and Vaccines
WingCopter have tested their drones in a wide variety of applications from commercial factory-to-factory deliveries to life-saving humanitarian projects and emergency medical supply. Recently, the company was able to deliver insulin to an Irish island in the North Sea that is frequently cut off from the mainland due to bad weather.
They’ve also supported UNICEF by setting up an on-demand vaccine supply in the country of Vanuatu. Their drones were able to deliver urgently needed medications and serums within minutes to multiple health centers on the South Pacific island.
First UPS Drone Partnership
This is UPS Flight Forward’s first partnership with a drone manufacturer. Both companies will be focused on earning regulatory certification for a Wingcopter unmanned aircraft to make commercial delivery flights in the United States. They will also work towards building a diverse fleet of drones with varying capabilities to meet even more potential customer needs.
“We are proud to partner with UPS, a global giant in delivery and logistics. Together we aspire to extend the speed and reach of package delivery,” said Tom Plümmer, Wingcopter chief executive officer and co-founder in a press release. “Our vision has always been to leverage technology to improve the lives of people around the world, and the strategic relationship with UPS will further accelerate our growth and global expansion, strengthening our role as an industry leader in drone technology.”