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UPS tests time-sensitive deliveries by drone

The company has teamed with drone maker CyPhy Works to explore making quick deliveries in places that are difficult to access.


In a mock scenario Thursday, a CyPhy Works drone delivered an asthma inhaler to a child on an island about three miles off the Atlantic coast.

Brian Smith

For some of us, the thought of a drone delivering a package to our door may seem novel and fun. But what if you lived in a remote place and the package contained something that could save your life?

UPS said Friday it has started to test using drones to make urgent deliveries in hard-to-reach locations.

Earlier this week, UPS and drone maker CyPhy Works staged a mock delivery from Beverly, Mass., to an island three miles off the Atlantic coast. The test, which successfully delivered an inhaler to a child on the island, used a secure, battery-powered drone that flies itself and requires little training, the companies said.

"Tests like these reveal a bridge to the future of customer service and urgent package delivery," Mark Wallace, UPS senior vice president of global engineering and sustainability, said in a statement.

"Drone technology used in this way can save lives and deliver products and services to places that are difficult to reach," CyPhy founder and CTO Helen Greiner said.

UPS is already testing drones in its warehouses to check for inventory or available space on high shelves. The company also said it's looking at using drones to send humanitarian aid to out-of-the-way areas around the globe.

Other companies exploring the use of delivery drones include online retailing giant Amazon and Alphabet, Google's parent company.