Seeing those new pair of shoes you bought falling from the sky might be happening sooner than you think! The United Parcel Service (NYSE: UPS) recently announced that the FAA has given the broad approval to operate an entire delivery drone airline. This is a huge win for the company, whose stock price is up nearly 18% since the start of 2019.
UPS is the First Carrier to Receive Widespread FAA Approval for Drone Delivery
UPS is the first major carrier to receive approval from the FAA to deploy unlimited airborne delivery drones. On top of being the first carrier to receive it, this approval also gives UPS a ton of leeway. The FAA approval is officially titled Part 135 Standard Certification. It affords the company (and any others that attain it in the future) to fly an unlimited number of drones with an unlimited number of remote operators in command. This enables UPS to scale operations to meet growing customer demand.
As part of the certification, UPS won’t have to abide by regulations that previously limited them. For example, UPS drones and their cargo can now exceed 55 pounds. In addition, the drones are also now permitted to fly at night. This opens up a ton of new delivery timeframes for UPS, which will undoubtedly lead to more optimization and revenue.
Drones May Be the Future of Last Mile Delivery
While no one argues that drones aren’t exciting, drone delivery can’t exactly disrupt the shipping business as a whole. No matter what, packages still need to travel from their origin point to their final destination. As a result, we still need drivers, pilots, and logistics operators. However, delivery drones such as UPS’ upcoming fleet might be the future of taking parcels past the last mile to recipient’s doorsteps.
News of UPS’ recent FAA approval is the latest in a long line of technological advancements sending ripples throughout the shipping and logistics world. Amazon has already started experimenting with drone delivery in select areas. Ford Motors also unveiled their own package delivery robot, and FedEx rolled out an autonomous delivery bot known as SameDay.
Outlining UPS’ Next Steps
While the FAA approval is a huge step in the right direction, Americans shouldn’t expect to see UPS drones flying around their neighborhoods just yet. As far as next steps go, UPS said it will start by building out drone delivery service to hospital campuses throughout the United States.
In the future, the company will also build a central operation control facility, and will invest in creating ground-based detection and avoidance systems for its drone fleets. Lastly, UPS plans to partner with new drone manufacturers to build different delivery drones for different payloads.