UPS delivery drones are on the way after FAA certification
UPS might soon be dropping off packages across the US by drone. The Federal Aviation Administration granted the UPS Flight Forward subsidiary air carrier and operator certification, allowing it to use drones for commercial deliveries.
Flight Forward is the first company to claim the Part 135 Standard certification, and it'll be able to operate an unlimited number of drones. The machines and their payloads can weigh more than 55 pounds and UPS can fly its drones at night.
Earlier this year, under the Transportation Department's Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program, Flight Forward started transporting medical lab samples and blood for transfusions around WakeMed's healthcare campus in Raleigh, North Carolina. After it received the FAA certification, it launched a Matternet M2 quadcopter flight under a "beyond visual line of sight" (BVLOS) exemption, which it says was "a first in the US for a regular revenue-generating delivery."
At first, UPS plans to expand drone deliveries to hospitals and medical campuses across the US. It's also planning to carry out flights outside of the healthcare industry, "including the transport of special commodities and other regulated goods."
It aims to build a centralized operations control center, run regular BVLOS flights and work with manufacturers to build drones that can carry various capacities of cargo. Flight Forward also plans to quickly build out "ground-based, detect-and-avoid technologies" for safety and to expand its services in the future.
"This is history in the making, and we aren't done yet," UPS CEO David Abney said in a statement. "Our technology is opening doors for UPS and solving problems in unique ways for our customers. We will soon announce other steps to build out our infrastructure, expand services for healthcare customers and put drones to new uses in the future."
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Uber Eats has plans for food deliveries in the next 2-3 years
An UberEats, operated by Uber Technologies Inc.,
In a few years, you may order food from UberEats, and a flying drone may deliver it to your door. The Wall Street Journal reported that Uber plans to launch food-delivery drones by 2021. A job post, which Uber later removed from its website, indicated that the company was looking for an operations manager to handle delivery drones.
Uber Technologies Inc. has a ride sharing app that allows drivers, who work as independent contractors, to connect with people who need a need ride. The company also owns UberEats, which lets people deliver food from local restaurants. Although Uber depends on humans to do the deliveries and driving today, it is developing multiple ways to automate these processes and reduce or eliminate the need for people. It appears that drones that deliver food are part of its plans.
A job post, which is not visible on Uber's website anymore, mentioned that the company needed an operations manager for its food-delivery drone program UberExpress. The Wall Street Journal shared that the company wanted to have functional drones by next year and planned to launch them in multiple markets by 2021. After removing the job listing, the company stated that the program was still in its early days.
Although the company may not want to discuss its food-delivery drone timeline, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is open about Uber's interests in drones. At the Uber Elevate Summit in May, Khosrowshahi mentioned he believed flying burgers would solve urban mobility. He also pointed out that the company was involved in a commercial drone-testing program.
Back in July 2016, UberEats partnered with Dialexa to host an event in Dallas, which featured flying drone delivery. Modified drones, capable of carrying 10 pounds, delivered food to eager guests on the ground. Due to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, the drones could not go higher than 400 feet and required a human pilot on the ground.