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Supply Chain News: UPS Partnering with Wingcopter On Next Generation Drone Deliveries


 

Technology will be able to carry Heavier Loads in a Shorter Time

March 30, 2020
SCDigest Editorial Staff
     

UPS last week said it is partnership with German start-up Wingcopter to developed new delivery drones, building off of an existing Wingcopter drone that has capabilities that far exceeds the capabilities of existing unmanned delviery aircraft.

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The Wingcopter drones also have the capacity to quickly accelerate for time-sensitive cargo for which more conventional drone designs might not be well suited.


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UPS has placed its aggressive drone delivery development program under its Flight Forward subsidiary, a dedicated drone delivery division created by UPS last July.

In October, Flight Forward was the first company to receive Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval to operate a commercial drone airline.

UPS said at the time that it would initially expand its drone delivery service further to support hospital campuses around the country, but also "to provide solutions for customers beyond those in the healthcare industry. UPS Flight Forward plans in the future to transport a variety of items for customers in many industries, and regularly fly drones beyond the operators' visual line of sight."

The company also currently operates drone delivery programs in select markets in partnership with CVS.

Wingcopter brings to the partnership advanced drone technology. That includes an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft that has a range of up to 75 miles and can achieve speeds up to 150 miles per hour, while operating in conditions with wind speeds of up to 45 miles per hour.

The company has already demonstrated how its drones can carry out delivery applications. During a demonstration with pharma giant Merck earlier this year, a Wingcopter drone transported small packages between various Merck office locations in a German corporate campus. Wingcopter has also demonstrated its drone delivering critical medical supplies and equipment to difficult to reach areas.

UPS says that under the new partnership, the companies will initially focus on certifying Wingcopter's drones for commercial deliveries in the US. Once that is accomplished, UPS and Wingcopter will begin collaborative development of additional drone models that will serve different delivery applications.

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The Techcrunch.com web site reports that Wingcopter's technical advantage is a design that allows it to switch from hovering and vertical lift to a low-noise forward flight mode, which is better suited to use over populated areas. It accomplishes this using a tilt-rotor design, which has the added benefit of making it more stable in difficult weather conditions, including rain and high winds.

The Wingcopter drones also have the capacity to quickly accelerate for time-sensitive cargo for which more conventional drone designs might not be well suited. Essentially, what it means is that the technology will be able to carry heavier loads in a shorter time, something UPS' previous drones were not designed to do.

"Drone delivery is not a one-size-fits-all operation,' UPS' Bala Ganesh said in a statement, "Our collaboration with Wingcopter helps pave the way for us to start drone delivery service in new use-cases.


Will we soon see delivery zones in widespread use? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section below.


 
 

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