After the recent patents that were granted to Amazon, the latest drone-related patent has been awarded by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to the HorseFly Truck Launched Drone Package Delivery System from the Workhorse Group.
Patent for HorseFly Truck Launched Drone Package Delivery System
The drone delivery industry is definitely heating up. More and more companies, such as Boeing and GE are getting on board, and the first deliveries by drone are expected to start as early as this summer as part of the UAS Integration Pilot Program. So, it should not come as a surprise that the number of drone delivery patents that have been awarded is going up as well.
Recently Amazon was awarded patents for ‘dropping packages from drones‘ and for drones to recognize gestures such as ‘flailing arms from its customers‘. The latest drone-related patent, number 9,915,956, has been awarded by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to the HorseFly Truck Launched Drone Package Delivery System from the Workhorse Group.
The HorseFly UAV Delivery System consists of a custom-built delivery drone that has been integrated into the Workhorse line of electric and hybrid delivery trucks. In their press release Workhorse says that the company already conforms with the current FAA guidelines for operating drones in the US as the drone pilot will maintain line-of-sight during the last-mile drone delivery process.
“We feel that the patented HorseFly truck launched drone package delivery system is the first major change to the last mile delivery process since the invention of the package delivery truck. Drivers appreciate the fact that the HorseFly system is fast, reliable, and efficient,” said Steve Burns, Workhorse CEO. “Last mile package delivery is changing, and the HorseFly delivery system is leading the way.”
The HorseFly UAV Delivery System is designed to assist the delivery truck driver and helps to speed up last-mile deliveries on everyday routes. The system works as follows:
- The truck delivery driver loads the package and launches the HorseFly drone
- The HorseFly drone autonomously launches from the rood of the delivery truck, proceeding to the delivery location
- At the delivery location, the drone automatically descends and delivers the package
- The HorseFly drone returns to the delivery truck at a planned stop and autonomously re-docks and recharges for its next delivery.
“We feel that package delivery by drone is here,” continued Burns. “Soon your package may come to your home by HorseFly!”
Recent studies have shown that last-mile deliveries by drone can be both more time-efficient and greener then deliveries by traditional (diesel) truck. Mercedes-Benz has been testing this concept in Zurich for a while and also UPS has been working on similar solutions. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, the drone delivery industry is heating up with many different initiatives being deployed around the world (Rwanda, Australia, China, and Russia). It will interesting to watch this space develop over the summer as the first trials will start to take place here in the US.
What do you think about drone deliveries and Workhorse’s solution in particular? Let us know in the comments below.
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