On February 20, 2017, UPS and Workhorse Group, an Ohio-based battery-electric truck and drone developer, successfully conducted a test that launched a drone from the top of a UPS truck, which then autonomously delivered a package to a home in Lithia, Florida, and returned to the vehicle –as the UPS truck driver continued along his route delivering other packages. UPS Senior Vice President of Global Engineering and Sustainability, Mark Wallace, said, “This test is different than anything we’ve done with drones so far. It has implications for future deliveries, especially in rural locations where our package cars often have to travel miles to make a single delivery.” With this technology, once perfected and drone laws allow, would allow UPS to send a drone from a UPS truck to make a remote delivery that would reduce costs and miles driven. Wallace said, “This is a big step toward bolstering efficiency in our network and reducing our emissions at the same time.”

Logistically, the drone is docked on the UPS truck’s roof. A cage suspended below the drone extends through the hatch on the truck and the UPS driver can load a package into the cage, press a button on a touchscreen, and send the drone on a preset, autonomous route to make the delivery. The drone recharges while it is docked, has a flight time of approximately 30 minutes and can carry a package weighing up to ten pounds.