Not Your Ordinary UPS Truck: A Drone Docking Station

UPS trucks may soon come with an upgrade: Drone docking stations that will allow drivers to perform two deliveries at once.

We’ve heard a lot about how Amazon plans to make drones the next frontier for delivery service. Now UPS is chasing the same goal.

The delivery giant has run a trial for drone delivery capabilities in Florida, using a new electric delivery truck with a drone launchpad perched on top, according to CNN. The way the delivery method works is pretty simple: The driver loads a package into the onboard drone’s cargo bin, and then a section of the van’s roof slides backward, and voila, the drone flies off to its delivery destination.

In the test scenario, the drones weren’t doing all the delivery heavy lifting. While the drone delivers its package, the human driver takes off to another location to make its own delivery run. The two are programmed to meet at another location, and the drone is loaded up with another package and the process starts anew. The idea is to tag-team the drone and human for the driver’s entire shift, enabling UPS to deliver packages more efficiently and cut back on fuel costs. The real gains should come in rural areas where deliveries are more spread out. UPS estimates that if every one of its drivers shaved one mile per day off its itinerary, the company could save nearly $50 million annually, the CNN piece said.

Other details on the UPS drone delivery plan: The drone, which can carry packages weighing up to 10 pounds, recharges its battery while sitting idle in the truck as its battery only lasts for 30 minutes.

This space definitely seems to be heating up. I expect to see my dogs barking at delivery drones, not UPS trucks, in no time!

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