UPS Shares Ambitious Plans For Their Drone Services!
United Parcel Service (UPS) has ambitious plans for their drone services!
Shipping giant, UPS, is testing drone delivery services in an effort that could have significant implications for the nation’s wireless network operators.
In a virtual presentation at the Wireless Infrastructure Association’s Connect (X) trade show, Bala Ganesh, the VP of UPS’s Advanced, said that the company has conducted several drone tests since obtaining U.S. government approval to operate a drone airline in the latter part of 2019. According to Mr. Ganesh, they have been working on this for five years.
Ganesh highlighted the following three key drone tests conducted by UPS:
- “With drone company Matternet, he said UPS transported medical samples to testing labs at the WakeMed flagship hospital in North Carolina, which he said cut down transit time to less than five minutes to speed up diagnosis.
- He said UPS has tested launching drones from the top of its package delivery vehicles in rural residential areas. In a video, drones rise from the top of a UPS van to deliver packages to nearby residents.
- And Ganesh said the company participated in a White House event designed to test the viability of drones to handle deliveries amid COVID-19 lockdown orders. Specifically, he said the company started delivering medicine to a senior living facility in Florida several weeks ago.*
Ganesh’s appearance at the Workforce Investment Act’s (WIA’s) trade show is important because the event is specifically targeted at wireless providers, cell tower operators and others in the mobile industry, potentially indicating UPS’s plans to connect a fleet of delivery drones to 4G or 5G networks.
The fact is that UPS is already using wireless technology, which began with using AT&T’s 2.5G GPRS network almost 20 years ago, in order to connect thousands of its drivers to the Internet. Furthermore, UPS is testing a significant private wireless network at its distribution center in Billings, Montana.*
Although Ganesh has been hesitant to share additional information about UPS’s plans for its drones, he vaguely did share the following:
“We are continuing to evaluate different ways of connecting as the market matures. Wireless requirements is a critical piece of safely operating drones and we are testing and evaluating various operating models from different vendors. . . . We continue to evaluate private LTE and see opportunities for UPS.”*
In addition to UPS, which is pursuing the possibility of a fleet of drones powered by a wireless network, AT&T plans to use drones to create a bubble of wireless coverage in emergencies. American Tower, a cell tower company, uses drones to monitor its tower operations, while Verizon bought the drone company, Skyward, to sell drone services across the country.
UPS has beat out rivals, Amazon and Alphabet, to receive the U.S. government’s first full approval to operate a drone fleet to deliver packages and the company’s Flight Forward program received a certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which will allow the company to expand its delivery services on hospital and college campuses.
UPS’s ambitions are paying dividends in the drone market since UPS’s pilots will now be able to fly drones beyond their line-of-sight, which obviously is a very important step forward for its drone delivery services. In fact, The fledgling Flight Forward unit is immediately doubling the number of drone flights it does for its customers.