FAA authorizes testing of drone delivery project in Ohio

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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted a certificate of authorization (COA) to the Ohio/Indiana unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) Center and Test Complex in the USA, allowing Workhorse Group and the University of Cincinnati (UC) to continue their joint development of the HorseFly delivery drone.

The two-year FAA authorization includes priority access to Wilmington Air Park in Ohio where testing will take place. HorseFly, an eight-rotor ‘octocopter’, is designed to fly to and from a standard electric delivery vehicle. The drone weighs 15lbs when empty and has a payload capacity of 10lbs. It has a maximum speed of 50mph and a flight time of 30 minutes.

The HorseFly UAS, which is subject to FAA approval for commercial use, is given a package and a delivery destination by a delivery driver using a touchscreen interface in the delivery truck. The HorseFly has the ability to launch itself from the roof of the delivery vehicle and ascend to a safe cruising altitude and then navigate to the desired delivery point autonomously, using GPS navigation.

A human pilot in a remote location monitors the drone’s descent with a multi-camera video feed, and executes the package drop-off. The HorseFly can then ascend back to a safe cruising altitude, navigate to the new location of the delivery truck and use infrared tracking to land and dock with the truck. The HorseFly can then recharge its battery using the onboard battery of the electric vehicle.

Steve Burns, CEO of Workhorse, said, “Obtaining this authorization from the FAA is a vital step forward in making our HorseFly drone a practical component of our package delivery system by testing the drone’s unmanned flying capabilities. We believe the pairing of the HorseFly drone and the Workhorse electric vehicle may usher in a significant improvement in reducing emissions and improving the efficiency of the delivery process.”

Professor Paul Orkwis, head of aerospace engineering at UC, said, “Workhorse Group is among a select few world-class leaders working to create the UAS revolution by demonstrating its advantages for a better future. We believe the HorseFly program represents a major innovation in this arena.”

Martin Rucidlo, president of Workhorse, said, “The authorization to conduct testing at Wilmington Air Park gives us the ability to work on perfecting the Workhorse Truck and the HorseFly system. We look forward to working with the UC team and continuing the quest to revolutionize the package delivery process.”

October 20, 2015

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Helen has worked for UKi Media & Events for nearly a decade. She joined the company as assistant editor on Passenger Terminal World and since progressed to become editor of five publications, covering everything from aviation, logistics and e-commerce to meteorology. She has a love for travel and property and has redeveloped three houses in three years. When she’s not editing magazines, she’s running around after her two boys and their partner in crime, Pete the pug.

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