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UPS flies delivery drone beyond line of sight in US-first

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UPS has flown a commercial delivery drone beyond line of sight after receiving a first-of-its-kind certification from the US government.

The company was given a “Part 135 Standard” certification last week which permits UPS to fly an unlimited number of drones with an unlimited number of remote operators in command. It also allows the drone and cargo to exceed 55 pounds in weight and fly at night.

UPS also received a special government exemption to allow it to fly a drone beyond line of sight.

The company conducted a delivery of medical supplies using a Matternet M2 quadrocopter at the WakeMed hospital campus in Raleigh, North Carolina.

CEO David Abney said: “This is history in the making, and we aren’t done yet. Our technology is opening doors for UPS and solving problems in unique ways for our customers. We will soon announce other steps to build out our infrastructure, expand services for healthcare customers and put drones to new uses in the future.

“UPS Flight Forward is benefitting from our knowledge as one of the world’s leading airlines. The Flight Forward organisation is building a full-scale drone operation based on the rigorous reliability, safety, and control requirements of the FAA.”

In March, UPS began the deliveries at the Raleigh campus. The vehicles, built by partner Matternet, can carry a payload of just over 2kg and can travel up to 12.5 miles.

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