United Parcel Service (UPS) announced this week that it will test electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (eVTOLs) for package delivery. UPS purchased 10 eVTOL from Beta Technologies (Beta), which it plans to test for use in its Express Air Delivery network. These eVTOLs are set to be delivered to UPS in 2024, pending certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Beta Technologies also plans to provide landing pads and rechargeable batteries. With just a single charge, the eVTOLs can fly up to 250 miles at 170 miles per hour.
All testing and operation of the eVTOLs will be done under Beta’s Flight Forward division, which is tasked with research and development for package delivery by drone.
Vice President for UPS’s Advanced Technology Group, Bala Ganesh, said “We can see a future where [the eVTOLs are] carrying, let’s say 1,000 pounds, 1,500 pounds to rural hospitals,” and landing on a helipad instead of at an airport.
However, there will be some literal obstacles in the way. For example, delivery by eVTOLs in a busy, congested city like New York might restrict some use. UPS says it may not be a one size-fits-all solution, but that the willingness to pay and urgency of need could mean that UPS would find a safe way for the eVTOLs to get there.
UPS said it initially plans to use them in smaller markets and create a series of short routes or one long route to meet customer needs. However, these eVTOLs can increase efficiency and sustainability, while reducing costs.