Speaking of delivery drones, there were a lot of reports that previously suggested that major e-commerce and logistics companies might use these drones to improve delivery. Ohio-based workhorse Group Inc. tested a delivery drone.
The Workhorse Group Inc is already a UPS technology supplier. It builds commercial, hybrid electric trucks, develops aerospace techs and batteries. The company launched a multi-rotor drone from the roof of a delivery van. The drone delivered the package correctly and then returned to the van. The robotic arm of the trailer docked the delivery drone on the roof. UPS purchased 350 electric hybrid trucks, and out of these 125 of them are already running on roads.
UPS’s new HorseFly UAV Delivery system was customized to work with the vehicles of the company. For this test of delivery drones, the truck was customized to launch the Horsefly delivery drone from the roof. The concept to initiate the delivery drones is not new. The other companies like Mercedes Benz and a tech start-up jointly revealed plans for developing the “Vision Vans.”
They will launch Matternet’s delivery drones from Mercedes-Benz trucks. Speaking with UPS Vice President of Engineering, John Dodero, the company wants to create drones for any vehicle. Starting from Gas powered to the electric vehicles for the last mile deliveries. His exact statement is, [quotes quotes_style=”bquotes” quotes_pos=”center”]That nest that we have on top of the car would be able to be put on any car, but we have to make sure it has the capabilities and its set up to do the charging.[/quotes]
The specifications of HorseFly delivery drone
The HorseFly is a 9.5-pound delivery drone that comes in a carbon filter construction. It is powered by a Lithium 18650 battery pack, and the flight will last for 30 minutes. The top speed is 45 miles per hour. It is the best delivery drone till date because most of the standard drones can fly for 22 minutes.
The HorseFly can carry a package of 10 pounds. Thus, it can handle a major amount of residential deliveries. The HorseFly had to stay in line with the sight range of the Pilot because of the test. It is due to the FAA regulations. The drone flew in a pre-formatted route.
In real world deliveries, the drone will have to operate using the UPS’s proprietary software. It is called the ORION (ON Road Integrated Optimization and Navigation). The software is used for determining the route for flying the delivery drones.
Beneficial aspects of delivery drones
Well, one of the major aspects of these delivery drones is, the drivers can just send away the delivery without facing the difficulty of driving a truck through small roads. The distributions will become easier with drones in rural areas. They can launch and recall the drones accordingly. The guidance database of Housefly draws from an online database covering weather, topography, airspace and wind conditions.
They use the on-board sensors like the GPS, compass, infra-red camera and LIDAR. Another beneficial aspect is, the whole system has got backup plans. If one prop is damaged, the drones can still fly. If there is no 4G LTE connection available, the drone can communicate with the truck through RF.
Why did UPS choose the delivery drones from Workhorse Group?
UPS does not have any equity stake in Workhorse Group. The company chose it because its current vendor relationship and the progress Workhorse made on technology. It is better to stick to the drones of those companies who have already experimented with them. Robotics talent is hard to find these days and harder to keep.
Why do the delivery drones still need improvement?
The Federal Aviation is refining the rules that will govern the commercial use of drones. Due to drone malfunctions, the HorseFly drones need improvement. There are reports of failure on the drone’s compass. The drone aborted the mission and tried to land. It fell straightaway into the side of the truck and the closing lid of the vehicle almost crushed it.
Apart from the technical issues, UPS and Amazon, who are working on developing the delivery drones, needs to think about integrating this technology into the workforce. In simple terms, they need to think about the jobs of the people too. According to UPS, the driver jobs are intact because customers will depend on them. Still, companies need to be competitive in technology. And this is why the delivery drones are an essential part of the progress.