LAS VEGAS – Delivery Drones could be flying sooner than expected. One company is demonstrating technology it says will be ready in time for the holiday shopping rush, it’s expected to beat Amazon to the punch.
“We expect to be doing package deliveries this Christmas season, so it is here; it’s here now,” said Mike Dektas, marketing director for Workhorse.
All the buzz has been on Amazon’s recent testing of its own fleet of autonomous delivery drones flying to-and-from its fulfillment centers, but Dektas says its “Horsefly” system is FAA friendly.
“That’s because you can deliver off the top of a truck, and the drone is still within line-of-sight of the driver, so therefore it complies,” Dektas said.
“UPS, FedEx, the Postal Service, those trucks are on your street every single day anyway; this is just an augmentation to that fleet,” said Elliot Bokino, engineering project manager, Workhorse.
The project’s top engineer says the system will catch on… Because of its efficiency.
“The truck knows all the packages that are on it at the start of the day, and then breaks that up into packages the drone can do, and then packages the human has to do because of size or weight,” Bokino said.
The drone can deliver most packages that are under 10 pounds. An Amazon study found that over 80 percent of the packages it sends out, fall within that threshold.
Workhorse says deploying drones could save companies like UPS or FedEx tens of millions of dollars a year in fuel costs.
“Maybe you’re taking a 60-mile a day route, and you turn that into a 40-mile a day route by using the drones to pick off some of those houses,” said Bokino.
They’ve chosen a launch partner, but are not saying yet which major logistics company it is. Workhorse says it will soon announce where drone will begin.
The demonstration was part of the Association of Packaging and Processing Technologies Trade Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center.