Workhorse begins HorseFly autonomous drone package deliveries

The trial program is underway in Ohio

Last year, we saw Workhorse Group demonstrate its HorseFly for the first time. The HorseFly is an autonomous drone that launches from the roof of a delivery truck to take a package to its final destination. At the time, it seemed like implementation would be a long way off, but last week, Workhorse announced the its HorseFly has begun delivering packages as part of an FAA-approved pilot trial in Loveland, Ohio, near Cincinnati.

Customers in certain Cincinnati ZIP codes were able to opt in to the program to accept drone deliveries. While the drones are autonomous, the driver maintains line-of-sight with the operating drone, per FAA rules. Customers can also track the package using the Workhorse Ares Drone Package Delivery App. Workhorse will use data from the trial to gauge consumer preferences and garner support for "expanded use cases" from the FAA.

If you're curious about the details of the delivery process, Workhorse describes it as follows:

"The truck delivery driver loads the package and launches the HorseFly drone The HorseFly drone autonomously launches from the roof of the delivery truck, gains altitude and proceeds to the delivery location, monitoring by a centralized Horsefly control center. The consumer can also monitor the progress of their package delivery through their downloaded app At the delivery location, which the consumer can choose on the app by touching the point on a map, the drone autonomously descends and the package is released. The consumer can opt-in to receive a photograph and confirmation of their delivery. The HorseFly drone returns to the delivery truck at a planned stop and autonomously redocks and recharges for its next delivery."

Workhorse says the octocopter drone can fly at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour and carry packages up to 10 pounds. It can operate for 30 minutes on a charge, at a cost of $0.03 per mile.

When we talked to Workhorse CEO Steve Burns about the system last year, he told Autoblog that using the system in rural areas is a "double win." "The FAA likes it because there's not many people on the ground underneath the drone," said Burns. "And then the delivery companies like it because rural delivery is the most expensive per package because of the long distances between."

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