UPS Vans Become Delivery Drone Stations

Parcel delivery company UPS is testing a concept in which delivery drones are launched from the top of its vans.

It may sound very futuristic, but it’s not unlikely that the following might happen to you soon: You are waiting for the delivery of the product resulting from your most recent online shopping spree, but when you open the door you won’t find your usual UPS staff there, but a drone hovering in the air instead.

UPS has successfully tested a delivery drone in Tampa, Florida. The parcel carrier has been long working on making deliveries, especially in rural areas, more efficient, and this might just be it. While the truck driver choses the most efficient way for the rest of his deliveries, packages weighing less than 4.5 kilos can simply be delivered by drones, that are launched from a platform on top of the van. They are safely stored in the belly of the drone, which can stay in the air for up to 30 minutes. Once the job is done, it returns to the delivery van, which is driving around completing the rest of the deliveries.

The technology enables deliveries to be made much more efficient, and lets logistics companies save valuable time and money on gas — and, subsequently, emissions as well. While this all sounds very exciting, Ford employees in Shanghai have gone a step further. Their Autolivery concept does live up to its name. The ambition to carry out deliveries completely without human assistance is envisaging self-driving electrical vans, paired with drones which pick up and deliver goods in dense urban areas. The project from Ford’s City of Tomorrow could help us to find a way around gridlock and traffic jams in cities and on highways, while reducing pollution as well. The newly found space could be converted into green space and parks and foster a whole new kind of urban experience.

These projects have not been officially launched just yet, but US authorities have made an exception for tests of delivery drones. With the advent of self-driving cars and a completely new era of mobility ahead of us, package-delivering drones do not sound so futuristic at all anymore.

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