UPS delivery drones can now fly longer distances out of sight of ground carriers, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. revealed in a press release On Wednesday. This is the kind of move that opens the door for drone delivery companies like Wing, FedEx and Zip to deliver packages over a wider area and serve more customers.
UPS Flight Forward, a UPS subsidiary focused on drone delivery, can now deliver small packages beyond line of sight (BVLOS) without ground observers monitoring the route and skies for other aircraft, using SwissDrones SVO 50 drones V2. The FAA also announced clearances for two other companies to fly out of sight for commercial purposes. That includes uAvionix Corp. and, last week, infrastructure inspection company Phoenix Air Unmanned.
UPS first received government approval to operate its drone service in 2019, the same year the FAA cleared the Alphabet’s Wing service to operate commercially. The company first focused on building a drone delivery network for US hospital campuses.
The news comes just days after Walmart announced that it is partnering with Wing to deliver to the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. So far, Walmart has already made more than 10,000 deliveries in seven states through its partners DroneUp, Flytrex and Zipline. The new partnership will allow the retailer to deliver to an additional 60,000 homes.
However, not all drone delivery programs have performed well, such as Amazon’s Prime Air drone delivery service. As of May, the service had made just 100 deliveries to California and Texas, the two locations where it operates. It’s unclear what the figure is now, but it’s well behind Amazon’s previous projection that it would complete 10,000 drone deliveries to customers by the end of 2023.