UPS drone delivery subsidiary UPS Flight Forward (UPSFF) will collaborate with German drone-maker Wingcopter to develop package delivery drones for a variety of use cases in the United States and internationally.
As part of this collaboration – UPSFF’s first new relationship with a drone manufacturer since its formation – both companies will work toward earning regulatory certification for a Wingcopter unmanned aircraft to make commercial delivery flights in the United States. It also is a critical step toward building a diverse fleet of drones with varying capabilities to meet even more potential customer needs.
The Wingcopter drones feature vertical takeoffs and landings in tight spaces, transitioning to high-speed horizontal flight enabling ranges suitable for a variety of uses. These capabilities will allow UPSFF to begin developing solutions that, if approved, will go well beyond the healthcare and retail industries to solve long-standing challenges for high-tech, industrial manufacturing, hospitality, entertainment and other customers.
Wingcopter has already proven its capabilities in numerous beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) projects and for diverse customers around the world – from commercial factory-to-factory deliveries to life-saving humanitarian projects and emergency medical supply.
The company’s electric-vertical-takeoff-and landing drones feature a patented tilt-rotor mechanism, which enables a seamless transition between two drone modes: multicopter for hovering and fixed-wing for low-noise forward flight.
The electrically powered Wingcopter aircrafts take off and land vertically like multicopters in the smallest of spaces and fly long distances as efficiently and quickly as fixed-wing aircraft. This enables ranges of up to 75 miles (120 kilometers) and a Guinness world record speed of 150 mph (240 km/h). Even in strong winds of up to 44 mph (70 km/h) or inclement weather, the Wingcopter flies autonomously and reliably.
UPSFF last year began operating commercial drone delivery flights in the UPS network, starting with delivery service at WakeMed’s flagship hospital and campus in Raleigh, N.C. Since then, the company has delivered thousands of medical samples via drones, supplementing a ground courier service. UPSFF later announced plans to establish drone delivery services on several healthcare campuses and has been exploring the use of drones to deliver retail, prescriptions and medical products in residential settings.
Last September, UPSFF received the U.S. government’s Standard Part 135 certification to operate a drone airline and has also completed drone deliveries under the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s Part 107 rules within the FAA’s Integration Pilot Program.