UPS adds autonomous vehicles to its list of advanced capabilities. Source: Shutterstock

UPS adds autonomous vehicles to its list of advanced capabilities. Source: Shutterstock

Autonomous vehicles and drones are fortifying UPS’ logistics operations

THE ROARING success of e-commerce has shifted the dynamics in the supply chain, particularly within the logistics industry. What follows is increasing customer demand for speedier processes and improved experiences.

This has then created both, pressure and opportunities, for logistics companies, like UPS, to innovate and augment their operations.

UPS, therefore, has decided to leverage autonomous vehicle capabilities and launch drone-based trial projects.

“As megatrends like population growth, urban migration, and e-commerce continue to accelerate, we recognize the need to work with partners around the world to solve both road congestion and pollution challenges for our customers and the communities we serve,” said UPS Chief Information and Engineering Officer Juan Perez.

In a statement, the company announced that it will be testing self-driving minivans for package pickups to enhance network operations and boost customer service.

The effort follows a partnership that UPS has built with Waymo, an autonomous vehicle operator, where a number of Chrysler Pacifica minivans will be seen shuttling packages from UPS hub in Tempe, Arizona to its stores in Phoenix.

However, the partners ensure that these self-driving vehicles will be closely monitored during the initial stage of the test project by a Waymo engineer who will be riding the minivans to ensure safety, security and seamlessness of operations.

UPS Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer Scott Price said, “Getting packages to our sortation facilities sooner and more frequently, while also creating an opportunity for later drop-offs for next-day service, can add enormous value for our customers.”

The company also mentioned that frequent shuttling of packages will not only drive greater efficiency, but it will also free up valuable space for franchisees within the retail environment.

Both UPS and Waymo hope to see the test project succeed so that they can proceed to chart long-term plans and begin trials in other areas with more vehicles.

Drones are also another capability that is fortifying UPS’ efforts in future-proofing their business. Previously, the messenger company experimented with drone technology in delivering pharmaceuticals to customers’ homes in North Carolina.

It was proven to be a successful project and a significant feat in the company’s transformation journey. Now, UPS has revealed that it will be launching another drone trial in San Diego through a health campus delivery program with the University of California San Diego Health.

The project will be transporting medical products between campus-based health centers and labs in a bid to augment patient care services via streamlined logistics.

UPS’ drones will be flying for less than a mile through predetermined paths and be monitored by remote operators. It is expected that the journey will only take a few minutes to complete.

It seems like the leading logistics player is very motivated to deliver valuable services, delight customers, and take their operations to new highs.

As UPS equips itself with more capabilities, it will not be surprising if the company dominates the supply chain market is valued as a reliable service among global customers.