UPS Could Become the Second Company, After Alphabet, to Legally Deliver With Unmanned Drones

UPS wants to become the second company in the country to receive a special government certification to expand their drone delivery operations. In service of the innovative project, they’ve created a new subsidiary business, UPS Flight Forward. 

UPS representatives claim that Flight Forward could receive Part 135 certification from the Federal Aviation Administration, “as early as this year.” This would legally certify UPS as a certified Air Carrier and Operator, providing an exception that would allow them to operate unmanned drones in populated areas, at night, or out of the operator’s line of sight — all of which are normally illegal.

The first and thus far, only, company to receive Part 135 certification was Google parent company Alphabet for its own drone subsidiary, Wing, this past April.

Other companies such as Uber and Amazon have also applied, but not yet received approval.

“UPS is committed to using technology to transform the way we do business,” said Scott Price, UPS chief transformation and strategy officer, in a statement. “UPS’s formation of a drone delivery company and application to begin regular operations under this level of certification is historic for UPS and for the drone and logistics industries.”

Earlier this year, UPS tested a program to deliver medical samples via drone at a hospital in North Carolina. 

Flight Forward would go much further, completing revenue-generating deliveries throughout the U.S. 

A UPS representative told Hypepotamus that timing for staffing the subsidiary is dependent on receiving FAA approval. The team “will scale as we grow the operation.”

Location of the subsidiary also has not been determined, though the majority of UPS corporate employees are based at its Atlanta headquarters.