By Marzella Sigai
UPS has won government approval to operate a nationwide fleet of drones, which will let the company expand deliveries on hospital campuses and move it one step closer to making deliveries to consumers.
Many regulatory obstacles remain, however, before UPS or other operators who are testing drone can fill the sky over cities and suburbs with drones carrying goods to people’s doorsteps.
United Parcel Service Inc. said that its drone subsidiary was awarded an airline certificate last week by the Federal Aviation Administration, the first U.S. company to get such a broad approval.
Even before getting that designation, UPS Flight Forward, as the subsidiary is called, has operated more than 1,000 flights at WakeMed’s hospital campus in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The designation removes limits on the size of the company’s potential drone operation. Flight Forward can fly an unlimited number of drones, a key step toward expanding the operation. It can also fly drones at night — the company plans to do that after installing the necessary colored warning lights on each machine.
However, UPS still faces severe restrictions before it can run a large commercial operation with drones. -AP NEWS