FAA gives the go-ahead for UPS drones to operate
UNITED Parcel Service Inc has won US certification to fly drones under regulations similar to those for airlines, a milestone that allows the company to vastly expand airborne deliveries
UNITED Parcel Service Inc has won US certification to fly drones under regulations similar to those for airlines, a milestone that allows the company to vastly expand airborne deliveries.
The Federal Aviation Administration (F) gave the courier permission to use delivery drones at hospital, university and corporate campuses with few restrictions, for example, letting operators fly the aircraft at night and over people.
Current regulations prohibit drone flights after dark, above people, beyond the remote pilot's line of sight and at weights heavier than 55 pounds.
'We believe now there are hundreds of campuses across the United States where we're going to be able to offer this solution,' UPS chief transformation officer Scott Price said in an interview. 'We're pretty confident we're going to be at the forefront of trialling the various models.'
The F's decision is a big step forward in the move toward routine drone shipments. The devices promise to reduce carriers' costs as the surge of e-commerce increases demand for home delivery, which squeezes profit margins because there are fewer packages per location than at business addresses, reports Bloomberg.
So significant is the F certification that UPS CEO David Abney plans to mark the occasion by ringing a bell at the company's headquarters that is reserved for corporate milestones, such as big mergers.
The Atlanta-based company said it has already made more than 1,000 revenue-generating test flights at the WakeMed hospital campus in Raleigh, North Carolina, recently including the first beyond the operator's line of sight. UPS expects to roll out more drone deliveries in advance of more expansive drone-delivery regulations that are expected in 2021.