The company using those well known big brown vans has started testing a drone delivery system that has the potential to lower costs when dealing with deliveries in rural areas.

The trial makes use of Workhorse HorseFly drones that were neatly integrated atop standard delivery UPS vans. The drones will recharge automatically when docked and are able to fly with a parcel of up to 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) for about 30 minutes. The idea is simple – the UPS driver loads the package into a special compartment, the drone delivers it to the final destination on its own and the driver simply carries along his route.

[Video] UPS starts trials of autonomous van-mounted delivery drones 5

UPS believes the technology is best suited to rural areas – which today are inefficient and expensive for delivery vans. The company has calculated that with 66,000 drivers on the roads each day, taking out a single mile of driving per driver per day can save the company $50 million annually. The company is among the 35 companies to serve on the Federal Aviation Administration’s drone advisory council, and is also testing drone deliveries of humanitarian supplies in Rwanda, as well as using them to check inventory levels on high shelves within warehouses.


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