NEW YORK – The package delivery company UPS announced this Tuesday that it has received full authorization to operate a fleet of drones in the United States.
The company said in a statement that it will initially use this permit to expand its shipments to hospitals and to explore its application in other sectors.
“This is history in the making, and we aren’t done yet,” said the note released by UPS Chief Executive Officer David Abney, who let it be known that the company will soon be pushing the limits of what the company will do, the sectors it will serve and the new ways it will serve them as time goes by.
“Our technology is opening doors for UPS and solving problems in unique ways for our customers. We will soon announce other steps to build out our infrastructure, expand services for healthcare customers and put drones to new uses in the future,” Abney said.
The use of unmanned aircraft for the delivery of packages is a big opportunity for a number of industry giants, from UPS to tech firms like Uber, Amazon and Google.
The Part 135 Standard certification offered to UPS by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the highest that any company has obtained as yet and will allow the package shipper to operate starting immediately without any limits on the number of its flights, the weight of the cargos they carry or on flying any hour of the day or night.
Up to now, UPS has focused on transporting products between hospitals and clinics in the state of North Carolina, a business that it expanded immediately after getting the green light from regulators last Friday, Abney said in his statement.
The FAA authorization will allow the company to operate flights beyond the field of vision of the operator, and in the long term opens the door to the use of drones to deliver products at a much longer range.
UPS, for example, has made trials with a system of shipping packages to homes in rural areas using drones launched from vehicles, though for now no precise indications have been given about what part that would play in the company in the short term.