Prime Competence and Unmanned Life to trial autonomous drone-based sorting center
Postal consultancy Prime Competence has partnered with drone technology developer Unmanned Life to begin trialling the world’s first autonomous drone-based sorting center, which has been built for a major European post.
Prime Competence will provide overall program management, process auditing and technology assessments, and will combine with Unmanned Life’s multi-patent pending innovative solution of a fully autonomous drone fleet, managed through a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform via the cloud.
The companies have targeted the e-commerce market at its weakest point by attempting to match sorting capacity and delivery against the speed of online orders. The developers expect that at the end of the pilot initiative they will be able to demonstrate that autonomous drones can rapidly and accurately perform the sorting at a higher throughput and lower cost per unit than the current industry standard.
Eddy Thans, CEO, Prime Competence, said, “We are very excited about this project and its potential; for the first time in decades, technology facilitates a new way of approaching sorting that offers ultimate flexibility and scalability without the huge capital investment required by traditional sorting solutions – a factor that is holding back development in a rapidly changing business and consumer e-commerce environment.
“We commend the postal company for their commitment to innovation and proving the potential of autonomous sorting for the benefit of the broader postal industry. The program will involve several fields of technology, from sensors, vehicles, data transmission and software management platforms. We are pleased to have Unmanned Life as a key technology partner on this program; their autonomous drone fleet management technology represents a huge step forward in making this dream a reality.”
Unmanned Life believes that one of the main advantages of having an autonomous drone fleet fully controlled by software alone is that there is no need to recruit, train and manage pilots.
Kumardev Chatterjee, CEO and founder of Unmanned Life, said, “Our solution has the advantage of being flexible, scalable and much cheaper than the usual conveyer belt used in the distribution centers. It can take tens of millions of euros and up to three years to build such centers. With Unmanned Life’s solution and Prime Competence’s recognized expertise in the sector, we are going to revolutionize the way sorting is done today.”
UPS has successfully tested a home delivery drone that launches from the top of a UPS package car while the driver continues separate deliveries.
The drone autonomously delivered a package to a home, returning to the vehicle upon successful completion. The test was conducted in Lithia, Florida, with the help of Ohio-based battery-electric truck and drone developer Workhorse Group.
International parcel delivery provider DPDgroup has produced a 360º virtual reality video that enables the viewer to experience the journey made by a parcel in first person, from collection to delivery. To experience the fully immersive experience on a smartphone, users can download the DPD VR Experience application at Android or Apple stores.
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