Drone delivery took a giant leap toward reality this week with a huge announcement from Verizon, UPS and Skyward.
Skyward, A Verizon company, and UPS Flight Forward a group effort to deliver retail products with drones connected to Verizon 4G LTE, as well as 5G testing and integration for delivery. The companies aim to deliver retail products via connected drones at The Villages in Florida.
“We will need the ability to manage and support multiple drones, flying simultaneously, dispatched from a centralized location, operating in a secure and safe environment. To do this at scale, alongside Verizon and Skyward, we’ll need the power of 5G,” said Carol B. Tomé, CEO of UPS.
The logistical struggles of such an ambitious project are very real, but the companies seem to be ready to make the jump.
“We’re just beginning to see how the power of 5G Ultra Wideband will transform the way businesses operate,” said Rima Qureshi, Chief Strategy Officer at Verizon. “By partnering with UPS and other innovative companies, we can learn from each other’s expertise and collaborate to create solutions that help move the world forward.”
In 2020, Verizon, UPS Flight Forward, and Skyward started testing 4G LTE in delivery drones to demonstrate cellular reliability and performance at altitude.
“The low latency of 5G and edge compute is ideal for monitoring air traffic in and out of a busy logistics hub, especially those using mixed fleets of autonomous vehicles like drones, trucks, and planes,” said Mariah Scott, Skyward President. “This year, we’ll be taking the collaboration with UPS further by testing 5G Ultra Wideband integrations to connect the sky.”
UPS has operated more than 3,800 successful drone delivery flights since the creation of UPS Flight Forward, its drone delivery company, certified by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2019. But in 2020, drone delivery emerged as much more than rapid delivery of essential healthcare items — during the global pandemic it provided high-risk seniors a rapid and contactless delivery option to remain healthy at home.
“Using Verizon’s 5G and Skyward, we’ll be able to transform the delivery experience – more personal, more on-demand and with the same safety, efficiency, and reliability our customers trust today.” said Bala Ganesh, Vice President, Advanced Technology Group at UPS.