UPS is trialling a drone delivery service that could see goods arrive at your doorstep within half an hour.
The service would go head-to-head with Amazon’s Prime Air delivery service to drop off orders within in an hour using drones.
UPS’s delivery service has been made possible by the company’s grant of $800,000 to robotics and drone delivery company Zipline.
The company was originally set up to deliver medical supplies to hard to reach places in Rwanda, and working with the government, it was able to meet this objective.
Now the company will partner with UPS and worldwide immunisation company Gavi to deliver blood, medical supplies, and vaccines to 21 clinics around Rwanda via drones.
Zipline’s CEO explained that the service is vital because often, roads and other entry route to towns and villages in the country are subject to flooding, meaning normal road vehicles can’t get through.
The fixed-wing drones can fly in any weather conditions, making them a solid choice for delivering to usually inaccessible places. Additionally, they don’t need to land, because supplies can be sent down below using parachutes attached to the cargo.
Fixed wing drones can also fly for longer, meaning they would be able to reach places further away. They’re also faster than the drones Amazon’s trialling, so supplies can reach their destination if there’s an urgent situation and a medical centre needs something almost instantly.
The drones are part of a much wider initiative that means medical workers can send a text message whenever supplies are needed and the drones will be dispatched. When the cargo is on its way, the medical worker will receive a text back saying they can expect delivery in a certain timeframe.
The service could make up to 150 deliveries a day and if successful, the service could be rolled out elsewhere. If the US Federal Aviation Administration gives it the go ahead, it could be used for other services – not just to transport medical supplies.