FAA okays restricted UPS drone delivery, seen as big breakthrough
AMERICA's Federal Aviation Administration (F) has given Atlanta-based United Parcel Service (UPS) permission to use delivery drones at hospital, university and corporate campuses, reports Bloomberg
11 October 2019 - 19:00
Insisting on no night flights or flying over people, the F's decision is regarded as a major breakthrough towards routine drone deliveries. 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're pretty confident we're going to be at the forefront of trialing the various models,' said UPS chief transformation officer Scott Price. 'We believe now there are hundreds of campuses across the United States where we're going to be able to offer this solution,' he said.
In response, UPS chief executive 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 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. UPS eventually will make residential deliveries with drones, most likely in rural and suburban areas.
In one scenario, drones would be launched from the top of delivery trucks to make shipments while the driver continues on the route. The drones would return to the vehicle, ready to be loaded with another package, Mr Abney said.
Said US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao: 'This is a big step forward in safely integrating unmanned aircraft systems into our airspace.'
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