The United Parcel Service said, this week, it has begun the testing of drones for use in emergency delivery of medical supplies. The inaugural flight took place in rural Massachusetts and the company hopes, of course, this is just the beginning of a much larger project to receive federal approval as a regular option for delivery.
Danvers, MA-based drone maker CyPhy managed the flight, on Thursday, delivering a small package from Beverly, a town located roughly 25 miles to the northeast of Boston to Children’s Island, which is a summer camp for children located 3 miles off the Atlantic coast.
UPS owns a small stake in CyPhy, so this project makes a whole lot of sense. However, until now, CyPhy has only manufactured tethered surveillance drones that can remain airborne for many hours to stream reconnaissance data that cannot be intercepted or jammed in any way.
The drone, painted UPS brown, of course, made this maiden voyage in a matter of 8 minutes. CyPhy chief technology officer Helen Greiner comments, “This demonstrates a drone is the best and most efficient way to deliver a package in a medical emergency in a remote location.”
Of course, UPS now has to overcome the present Federal Aviation Administration restriction as covered in its rules published last month that insist drones must only be used while in sight of the operator. Indeed, UPS senior vice president of global engineering Mark Wallace confessed that he hopes this test flight will persuade the FAA to further test such uses for drones, eventually allowing UPS to offer these emergency deliveries as part of their regular services.
Now, you may already by aware that online retailer Amazon has been testing drones in the United Kingdom, Denmark, and Canada, while Wal-Mart stores have also been using drones to help manage inventory, though only in its warehouses.
Greiner also makes sure to note “Drones aren’t going to take the place of all delivery, but there are places where you have inaccessible location, an emergency situation where the infrastructure is down, you want or need the package quickly—these are the areas where drones will be the best way to get a package to a location.”