One of the inventions of Workhorse Group, 'HorseFly' the truck-launched drone delivery is making real-life package deliveries to homes through a pilot program with the FAA and the city of Loveland, Ohio. The HorseFly system is designed to significantly lower the expense of last-mile delivery, says Workhorse. The system and its workings compile with the current FAA safety regulations for drone package delivery. How does the system work? "We feel this is a game-changing moment to innovate the way packages are delivered for many years to come," says Steve Burns, CEO of Workhorse.
A Work Horse Group drone that docks on top of a UPS van being tested near Lithia, Florida. SAN FRANCISCO -- Both the drone industry and federal regulators are years away from actual legal drone deliveries in the United States. But that's not stopping companies from testing possibilities, both to get the visual of a drone with their logo out in front of the public and to see what works. UPS was the latest to try something new with drones on Tuesday when it ran a test of a truck-launched drone delivery system for rural areas in Lithia, Fla. The drone-equipped vans would only be used on rural routes, said Mark Wallace, senior vice president for global engineering and sustainability, UPS.
The latest drone-related patent has been awarded by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to the HorseFly Truck Launched Drone Package Delivery System from the Workhorse Group. Numbers of companies are coming forward and getting on board and the drone delivery patents that have been awarded is going up as well. "We feel that the patented HorseFly truck launched drone package delivery system is the first major change to the last mile delivery process since the invention of the package delivery truck. Drivers appreciate the fact that the HorseFly system is fast, reliable, and efficient and last mile package delivery is changing, and the HorseFly delivery system is leading the way," said Steve Burns, Workhorse CEO. Studies have shown that last-mile drone delivery can be both more-efficient and greener than deliveries via truck.
If your image of the future of drone deliveries involves swarms of quadcopters pouring out of Amazon warehouses like flying monkeys leaving the Wicked Witch's castle, you'll be disappointed. They're far more likely to be dispatched from trucks parked not too far from your house. Anything else is simply too big a hassle. Companies like UPS and Amazon prize efficiency above all, and deploying a fleet of drones from a warehouse in the middle of nowhere wastes time. Making them fly all the way back wastes energy.
Tech visionaries may tantalize us with visions of instant gratification via drone delivery, but Silicon Valley has yet to deliver on such promises. Meanwhile, halfway around the globe in an African country barely the size of Maryland, drone deliveries have already taken flight--with more serious cargo than burritos. Jeremy Hsu is a science and tech journalist based in New York. Sign up to get Backchannel's weekly newsletter. In October 2016, Rwandan crowds cheered the launch and landing of delivery drones developed and operated by Zipline, a San Francisco-based startup.