The approval signifies a significant milestone for drone delivery services in the United States—granting UPS the ability to operate M2 drones without the need for costly visual observers to monitor airspace.
Instead, UPS will leverage ground-based RADAR technology to scan the skies for potential air traffic conflicts, with the capability to alert a remote pilot in command when required. This approach offers a scalable solution to true BVLOS operations, with the cost of infrastructure shared among multiple users.
Andreas Raptopoulos, Founder and CEO of Matternet, expressed his excitement:
“We are thrilled by this approval from the FAA and know this will play a significant role in the scaling of drone delivery services throughout the United States.
We are excited to continue our partnership with UPSFF to grow our services and enable drone delivery at scale. This is another step in our journey to make drone delivery a common part of everyday life.”
The significance of this authorisation extends beyond the immediate breakthrough as it will serve as a blueprint for future exemptions that permit the use of ground-based sensors – including RADAR, optical, or acoustic technology – to manage air risk for BVLOS operations.
UPS plans to utilise the Matternet Mission Control software in their Remote Operations Center, allowing for the centralised control of up to three aircraft per pilot. This approach will enhance the economics of drone delivery and support its expansion.
This development signifies a shift towards autonomous drone operations, contributing to an overall increase in the utilisation of FAA-certified drones.
Jim O’Sullivan, VP of Regulatory Strategy and Special Projects at Matternet, added:
“This is an important moment in our company’s history and will allow us to increase scale while continuing to change the way goods are transported and delivered.
We have always known drone delivery companies can solve numerous challenges. This approval will advance the regulatory framework in a way that encourages wider drone adoption throughout the world.”
The FAA’s approval empowers Matternet to scale its drone delivery services, expand into new markets, and continue to revolutionise home deliveries.
The partnership between Matternet and UPS began in 2019 with medical supply deliveries in North Carolina and Florida and gained further prominence in 2021 when UPS deployed Matternet M2 drones for COVID-19 vaccine deliveries to the Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina.
With this landmark FAA approval, the sky is quickly becoming the only limit for drone delivery services.
(Image Credit: Matternet)
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