UPS Is About to Start Delivering Packages Via Drone

What *can't* brown do for you?

UPS Drone Delivery Service

Drones have been a bit of a mixed bag, as far as 21st-century inventions go. Some have captured photos of the globe’s most beautiful corners, others have added to destruction in war-torn areas. The rest are owned by confused middle-aged men.

But here’s a highly functional and definitively positive use for drones. The United Parcel Service announced this week that it’s received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to begin operating its very own parcel-delivering “drone airline.” It will be the first of its kind, and it could signal the very beginning of a world where one is more likely to receive a package from a robot than a human being.

For now, though, UPS’s efforts will be centered around medical campuses. It’s been testing the pr0gram, called UPS Flight Forward, on WakeMed Campus in Raleigh, North Carolina, flying medical packages and blood samples from building to building. The yearlong trial proved effective, and UPS has the go-ahead to bring its systems to hospitals and medical campuses across the country. That’s the extent of its permitted expansion for now.

But down the line, UPS wants to expand the program to common deliveries, especially for rural areas. The cost of car transport is expensive — for wallets, and the environment — and a world in which UPS could bring packages to homes as the crow flies would be a game-changer. That would require some sort of national control tower, and experienced operators, capable of navigating “out of sight” drones. Which means, like most technical advancements in old American industries, there will still be jobs, but the bar to entry will probably be higher.

As for other companies getting in on the action — there are six currently being reviewed for commercial drone operations by the F.A.A. One of them is probably Amazon, which means Prime’s famous overnight deliveries might soon be accomplished in the same afternoon.

Subscribe here for our free daily newsletter.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.