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UPS Develops 'Rolling Warehouse' System In Which Drones Are Launched From Atop Trucks (bloomberg.com) 41

mi writes: A Bloomberg article describes a test conducted by UPS on Monday, "launching an unmanned aerial vehicle from the roof of a UPS truck about a quarter-mile to a blueberry farm outside Tampa, Florida. The drone dropped off a package at a home on the property, and returned to the truck, which had moved about 2,000 feet." The company is looking to design a "rolling warehouse" system in which a drone is "deployed from the roof of a UPS truck and flies at an altitude of 200 feet to the destination." It returns after dropping off the package while the truck is already on its way to the next stop.
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UPS Develops 'Rolling Warehouse' System In Which Drones Are Launched From Atop Trucks

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  • by mi ( 197448 ) <slashdot-2016q1@virtual-estates.net> on Tuesday February 21, 2017 @06:42PM (#53908117) Homepage Journal

    The company is looking to design a "rolling warehouse" system in which a drone is "deployed from the roof of a UPS truck and flies at an altitude of 200 feet to the destination." It returns after dropping off the package while the truck is already on its way to the next stop.

    We discussed just such a system here on Slashdot about 4 years ago [slashdot.org]... If anything, that discussion should allow other players to implement their own without fear of stepping on UPS' patent(s).

  • UPS trucks flying down the highway launching drones while playing the theme song to "Top Gun." Soon they will have arresting wires on top for landings at highway speed.
  • Now if they can just invent a delivery driver that doesn't steal your shit.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by turp182 ( 1020263 )

      My problem is not the driver's stealing stuff, but other people in my urban neighborhood.

      If a drone could drop a package my in my fenced back yard that would be fan-freaking-tastic. Of course it would have to navigate over my 3 story row house with two massive trees in the yard, that's not happening anytime soon...

      • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

        Have a landing pad on the roof for it. I had a computer stolen by a driver a few years ago. I contacted the company and they didn't seem worried about it. I sent it to my sister and she heard the truck roll up. By the time she got to the door the truck was rolling away and the box was on the porch, empty. I told the woman at the UPS this and she said things got taken in transit a lot of times it might not have been the driver but she seemed stumped when I asked her why he put an open, empty, box on the

        • That would actually work for the drone, but for me, it's a very dangerous ladder climb from a partial 2nd floor roof to the third floor roof.

          Improving this access would certainly be worth it though.

          Great idea, GPS is accurate enough I believe (landing spot could be 20 wide by 40 in length, in feet).

  • by tomhath ( 637240 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2017 @06:55PM (#53908189)
    The driver will be in back loading, launching, and recovering drones as the truck drives itself. Until he's replaced by a robot.
  • Reliability (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pete6677 ( 681676 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2017 @06:55PM (#53908193)

    If UPS drones operate anything like their human drivers, they'll just drop packages in random locations, mark them "delivered", and nobody ever sees them again.

  • we'll have Drone Destroyers
  • by BrookHarty ( 9119 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2017 @07:03PM (#53908231) Homepage Journal

    The UPS truck that serves my families rural location can't really make it up the hills in winter. UPS runs those tires almost bald in our area, crazy.
    UPS started delivering the packages to the local store, and the store is now the pick up place in our area.
    They could fly a drone from the store to the houses in the hills,

    Could see it. Remote location, we already use verizon for internet access, as satellite isn't taking new customers due to our area being over subscribed.
    We have wifi at the local community center from the shared tower that brings in sat tv and verizon to the small town.

    Rural communities are like this all over, very limited. Fedex/ups is used more than ever to bring things in.

  • Bug report (Score:5, Informative)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2017 @07:08PM (#53908257) Journal

    This was buried at the very end of the story:

    During a second, unofficial demonstration of the HorseFly for UPS on Monday, some sort of interference – possibly from the broadcast reporters’ cameras - caused an issue with the drone’s compass. The drone aborted its launch, tried to land on top of the UPS truck, fell to the side and was nearly crushed by the still-closing lid of the vehicle.

    “We’ve never seen it before,” said Burns, of the glitch.

  • I'm curious what the efficiency of energy usage on this vs standard truck is. The truck isn't idling as much, but the drones are flying and packages aren't getting to your door via foot power/SneakerNet.

  • by burhop ( 2883223 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2017 @09:42PM (#53908863)

    ... the UPS driver than gets to try to drop boxes on my barking dog or my dog that might catch his first drone.

    Really, if they start doing this in my neighborhood, I'll be ordering a dog bone a day on Amazon.

  • Idiocy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RubberDogBone ( 851604 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2017 @10:09PM (#53908959)

    Many cities and towns have had ZERO regard for the wiring nightmare hanging over their streets. Not to mention trees and other hazards. UPS is a bunch of damn fools if they think they can simply put drones on trucks and go for it.

    What do the drivers think? I read the UPS driver forums and they already had a lot of legitimate griefs and a lot of them felt overworked and pressured, so now they have to do drones, too? This is going to go over like a lead balloon in a gravity well.

    Besides which, there are drone no-fly zones all over the place. The town where I live is completely off limits as we are too close to a major airport. But that's OK because there are tons of badly groomed trees and some of the worst telecom pole wiring I have ever seen. Phone, CATV, power, fiber, and above those lines are 100ft high voltage lines with at least three tiers. Even if there wasn't a flight ban here, you'd have to be a complete moron to try to fly a drone among all these wires and the trees. Forget the kite-eating tree. It has nothing on the ones around here. They don't just eat drones, they also thrown limbs at you. Seriously. They eject limbs from time to time.

    • Wires might light up pretty easy on radar though.

    • by Agripa ( 139780 )

      Many cities and towns have had ZERO regard for the wiring nightmare hanging over their streets. Not to mention trees and other hazards. UPS is a bunch of damn fools if they think they can simply put drones on trucks and go for it.

      What do the drivers think? I read the UPS driver forums and they already had a lot of legitimate griefs and a lot of them felt overworked and pressured, so now they have to do drones, too? This is going to go over like a lead balloon in a gravity well.

      Besides which, there are drone no-fly zones all over the place. The town where I live is completely off limits as we are too close to a major airport. But that's OK because there are tons of badly groomed trees and some of the worst telecom pole wiring I have ever seen. Phone, CATV, power, fiber, and above those lines are 100ft high voltage lines with at least three tiers. Even if there wasn't a flight ban here, you'd have to be a complete moron to try to fly a drone among all these wires and the trees. Forget the kite-eating tree. It has nothing on the ones around here. They don't just eat drones, they also thrown limbs at you. Seriously. They eject limbs from time to time.

      So those cities and areas will not get UPS drone service; maybe UPS will charge a premium to deliver in these areas.

  • I dont know of a EU service even allowing shipping a package without proof of delivery. Reading all the horror stories about US postal service/private shipping Im just baffled. Why would you ship anything with a knowledge it will be tossed from a truck into your lawn/door for everyone to see???!?!

    • by b0bby ( 201198 )

      The default for UPS in the US is that they require someone to sign; however, you can instruct them to not need a signature and they will just leave the package at your door. If something's really valuable I'll get it shipped to work, but in 20 years of having stuff left I haven't had a single problem. Sometimes the package will sit there over a weekend or longer.

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