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USPS Considers Drone-Launching Vehicle

April 23, 2015 By Heather Fletcher
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Time-traveling to 2018 doesn't sound so adventurous until marketers realize they may see drones everywhere, delivering packages. Amazon is already testing a few and on Wednesday, a company bidding on vehicles for the U.S. Postal Service posted the screengrab of a CNBC video with the title "USPS Drones?"

"This morning, the Workhorse HorseFly package delivery drone was featured on CNBC," writes Cincinnati-based Workhorse Group, creators of the drone and its launch vehicle. "The 'Squawk Box' news team discusses the possibility of the United States Postal Service adding a new drone service to its fleet."

The Federal Times and USA Today report on Tuesday that Ford, AM General LLC (think "Humvee"), Fiat Chrysler and Nissan are among the others in the running for a more than $4.5 billion contract to provide USPS with 180,000 delivery vehicles to replace its aging fleet. In a March 12 release about its electric vehicles submitted to USPS for consideration, the company only briefly discusses the flying machines.

"Our optional integrated HorseFly package delivery drone is designed to increase the number of packages that a truck can deliver in a day," the release states. (The company, then AMP Holding, has since changed its name to Workhorse Group.)

The Workhorse Group's announcement says USPS could have its vehicles on their routes throughout the country in January 2018.

The Federal Times explains one possibility for this vehicle is to allow letter carriers to park and go about their routes, while the drones autonomously deliver up to 10-pound packages. Alternatively, a remote drone pilot could direct the packages from "a mile or two away."

However, the Federal Aviation Administration is requiring Amazon's drone pilots to keep the machines in their sight during delivery.

On March 23, a USPS spokeswoman told Target Marketing drone piloting "is not part of our letter carrier training." Plus, USPS doesn't plan on partnering with Amazon on drone deliveries. She didn't immediately respond to Target Marketing's request for comment on Wednesday.

 

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