VIRGINIA BEACH, Va.—Earlier this month, UPS, DroneUp, the Virginia Center for Innovative Technology and the Workhorse Group joined together on a three-day test of drone delivery of critical supplies to serve coronavirus hot spots, Fox News reports.
“The use of drones, specifically by commercial operators, in response to crisis events has been a point of discussion for some time,” said Tom Walker, founder and CEO of DroneUp, about “Operation Last Mile,” what the simulation had been dubbed. “While many in the industry offered ideas or theories, no exercise had ever [been] conducted using commercial operators and readily available drone platforms with actual and actionable data. … That was our mission. We conducted delivery of supplies at scale in a challenging, real-world environment throughout multiple days AND nights.”
The simulation took place on the abandoned campus of Saint Pauls College in Lawrenceville, Va. A team of 45 people participated in the test, which was run by FAA-certified drone pilots, which sent the drones to 19 delivery drops. In the trial 80 out of 81 delivery drops were successfully completed within a 10-foot diameter circle. The lone aborted delivery was due to high winds.
“I am encouraged to see so many private sector partners stepping up and thinking innovatively as we work together to combat COVID-19,” said Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam in a statement. “Drones can be an important way to deliver medical supplies while people stay home to adhere to our social distancing guidelines.”
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