Can UPS fly past Amazon in drone delivery?
Amazon has grabbed many of the recent headlines with its efforts to use technology to eventually dominate last-mile logistics. But other big names in delivery are not sitting idly by, as seen by UPS’s latest move.
UPS has begun testing a delivery truck that acts as a mobile drone base, Business Insider reported. The vehicle features a drone “nest” on the roof which houses a drone capable of flying for 30 minutes and carrying 10 pounds. The roof-mounted drone is meant to reduce the number of miles driven to deliver packages.
The idea of using a mobile base for drones has gotten popular as the industry tries to figure out a working paradigm for drone-based delivery. Last year, Amazon filed a patent for technology that enables drones to be deployed from a “floating warehouse” airship and another that uses lampposts and churches as perches for delivery drones.
And yet innovators also need to deal with the question of where drones will land. This month, Amazon patented a method for dropping packages from a drone with the use of parachutes, according to CNN. The shift in thinking is a response to concerns over the safety of landing drones in people’s yard.
Other big names in technology have also been investing in last-mile delivery technology. Last year Google patented a self-driving delivery truck featuring lockers that customers could access with a PIN. And the founders of Skype rolled out a wheeled, autonomous drone intended for local delivery use.
Even the United States Postal Service has been mulling the role that drones will play in the future of delivery. Towards the end of last year, the USPS Inspector General conducted a national survey that found more people liked the idea of drone delivery than didn’t, albeit with a large portion undecided.
Meanwhile, UPS has been making other moves to hold on to its edge in delivery. In February, the company announced that it would be beginning Saturday delivery in some urban markets.
- Amazon considers floating warehouses – RetailWire
- Amazon wants to use lampposts, churches as drone ‘perches’ – CNBC
- Amazon’s delivery drones may drop packages via parachute – CNN
- Is Google’s self-driving delivery truck the future of the last mile? – RetailWire
- Do Americans want drone delivery? – USPS Inspector General
- UPS launching Saturday ground delivery in major metropolitan markets – USA Today
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Can UPS use drone technology to stave off incursions by others into last-mile logistics? What will determine which delivery company or technology provider wins in this space?