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IR-LOCK Enables Safe Landings for Workhorse Package Delivery

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Excerpt from Inside Science 

Want same day package delivery service? Keep a look out for a drone to drop it at your front door. Drone delivery is about to get real! Just a few years ago drone delivery seemed like a thing of the distant future. Not anymore. A company in Ohio, called Workhorse Group is testing package deliveries using drones...but there's a small twist. The drone comes out of the top of an electric delivery truck. After each delivery, the drone returns to the truck for its next package.

Martin Rucidlo, President of the Workhorse Group said, "The least expensive way to deliver a package would be utilizing a drone, it's pennies in terms of cost per mile."

A driver programs the drone with an address. Using GPS, it flies to a safe altitude, drops the package within eighteen inches of the ground, usually near the front door. Then takes itself back to the delivery truck.

"The driver of the truck has moved on to the next location and now the drone re-docks with the truck at a distant location that is where they are making the next delivery," Rucidlo said.


The drone delivers packages in rural areas, usually traveling distances of about one to two miles.

"We envision working for maybe for 10% of the packages, you're typically delivering 100 packages a day, ten of them will be utilizing the UAS truck delivery system," he said.

The UAS – or unmanned aerial system – can carry packages up to ten pounds, and it's durable enough to fly in rain or snow.

"There're limitations, you can't fly them in severe wind," said Rucidlo.

Afraid someone or something – a dog or curious child -- will get in the way of your delivery? The driver is still in charge.

"Someone can see that your son is out and will stop the drone from descending at that point via a camera," he said.

The drones are still being tested, and the FAA needs to finalize rules for flying commercial drones – but the future of drone delivery could be just outside your door.

"It also allows you to get to what I will call next hour, or one-hour delivery. We have standard delivery, then we have two-day, and then we have next day and then we would have same day, and then we believe one hour. And the only way you're going to get there, we believe, is with a drone," said Rucidlo.


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