UPS Drone Package Delivery Project Update

UPS joins other package delivery companies around the world like DHL, Posti, Swiss Post, and others in testing the use of drones to make commercial deliveries of packages.  In late 2016 UPS conducted two test projects that showcased using drones for the delivery of life-saving and urgent packages.  One test was with drone manufacturer CyPhy Works for the delivery of urgently-needed medical devices and the other was paired with the company Zipline for medical supply flights in Rwanda.

READ MORE: Other drone delivery projects around the world

UPS and CyPhy Works Medicine Delivery

UPS CyPhy delivery drone inflight

UPS, in testing the use of drones to make commercial deliveries of packages to remote or difficult-to-access locations, partnered with CyPhy Works in Sept 2016 to test a mock delivery of urgently needed medicine from Beverly, Mass. to Children’s Island, which is about three miles off the Atlantic coast. In the mock scenario, the drone successfully carried an asthma inhaler to a child at a camp on the island, which is not reachable by automobile.
Watch the above video of the UPS/CyPhy drone in action.

UPS CyPhy test delivery drone

According to the CyPhy press release, the drone used in the test was the Persistent Aerial Reconnaissance and Communications (PARC) system. The battery-powered drone flies itself, so very little user training is required. It is extremely durable, has night vision and features secure communications that cannot be intercepted or disrupted.

Source and Images: CyPhy Press Release

UPS and Zipline Blood Delivery

UPS Zipline package delivery drone inflight

UPS created a global partnership with Zipline, a robotics company, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to explore using drones to transform the delivery of life-saving healthcare products like blood and vaccines around the world. The first flights of medical supplies in Rwanda were conducted in October 2016.

UPS Zipline drone read takeoff
During Rwanda’s lengthy rainy season, many roads wash out becoming impassible or non-existent. The result is that all too often someone in need of a lifesaving transfusion cannot access the blood they need to survive.

Rwanda’s national drone delivery program enables blood transfusion clinics across the Western half of the country to place emergency orders by cell phone text message. The orders are then received by Zipline at its at its distribution center located in the country’s Muhanga region where the company maintains a fleet of 15 drones, called Zips. The drones and delivery service are built and operated by Zipline, a California-based robotics company.

Each Zip can fly up to 150 km round trip—even in wind and rain—and carry 1.5kg of blood, which is enough to save a person’s life. Zips take off and land at the Nest, and make deliveries by descending close to the ground and air dropping medicine to a designated spot called a “mailbox” near the health centers they serve. Zipline will make 50-150 emergency flights a day to 21 transfusion clinics across the Western Half of Rwanda and can fulfill orders in around 30 minutes.

Rwanda plans to expand Zipline’s drone delivery service to the Eastern half of the country in early 2017, putting almost every one of the country’s 11 million citizens within reach of instant delivery of lifesaving medicines.

Leveraging UPS’s extensive global supply chain and logistics expertise, Gavi’s deep public health and vaccine knowledge, and Zipline’s cutting edge last-mile delivery technology, the partnership hopes to use the knowledge gained in Rwanda and export it around the world.

Source and Images: UPS Press Release