Ford and UPS building ‘mothership’ vans with cute little delivery drones

By Oliver Smith 3 March 2017

UPS and Ford have some innovative plans to improve your deliveries.

Ordering stuff online has never been easier, but getting that stuff through your front door is another challenge entirely.

It’s just really expensive and difficult to get parcels and packages from the warehouse to your door, requiring trucks, delivery drivers and complex logistics to navigate the so-called ‘last mile’.

But at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week Ford revealed a possible solution.

It’s ‘Autolivery’ concept involves an electric, driverless van which dispatches drones that make each individual delivery, even to high-rise apartments.

Ford has already said it plans have a fully self-driving fleet of cars on the road by 2021 in order to launch its own ride sharing and ride hailing service, akin to Uber, but this new concept shows Ford could go even further.

As car makers prepare to face a future where fewer people buy cars, Ford could even steal business from delivery companies like UPS by offering to deliver parcels from a fleet of driverless vans and drones.

But UPS isn’t planning on letting that happen.

Drone home

Last week the delivery giant unveiled its own drone solution, which is far more than just a concept.

With a new UPS truck design the company says its drivers will be able to launch a drone to make a delivery while they drive to the next stop on their route.

While UPS will still use human drivers, the idea is that this new tech will make them even more efficient by requiring them to make less stops and drive faster routes.

The actual tech was demonstrated to journalists last week in Florida, but isn’t technically legal under current US rules that prohibit drones from flying beyond a pilot’s eyesight.

Still, it’s promising to see two transport and delivery giants coming up with creative concepts to solve this ‘last mile’ challenge, and hopefully make our online shopping experiences even more delightful.