UPS applies for FAA drone license

UPS has set up a dedicated drone delivery subsidiary called UPS Flight Forward.

The international logistics giant is seeking US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) approval to operate its drones over populated areas and during nighttime hours, as well as when not in the line of sight view of a human operator.

Alphabet’s Wing received the same FAA approval as UPS is applying for in April. Other major players such as Uber Eats and Amazon Air have also gone for the same licensing.

While UPS is going for approval it is not known how important drone delivery is in the company’s future plans. Ground delivery robots are safer for example, and can operate in weather conditions outside drones’ envelope. Amazon has been aggressive in marketing drones as its future but it is also likely that this is more of a marketing ploy than a plan to fill the sky with swarms of drones.

UPS is working with drone start-up Matternet to pilot medical sample deliveries in North Carolina. In 2017 it trialled using trucks as local drone hubs in Florida although this didn’t work out as well as hoped.

It is believed that UPS will get its FAA license by the end of the year. Only then will we see just how seriously the company takes the technology.

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