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UPS Flight Forward to use drones from Beta Technologies

UPS Flight Forward has announced it will be using Beta Technologies’ ALIA-250c cargo delivery drone to enhance its drone delivery network. The drone will deliver goods between UPS facilities, making hardly any noise with its silent props.

UPS will continue to use its smaller delivery drones, as those will continue to deliver goods to smaller communities in a shorter amount of time. This new drone will allow the company to upgrade the between-facility leg of the journey, speed up operations, and reduce vehicle emissions.

Beta’s ALIA-250 comes in two versions, a passenger one with six seats and a cargo version, which UPS will be using. The ALIA-250c can carry up to 1,400 pounds in a single flight up to 250 miles away. The drone can cruise at speeds of up to 170mph, allowing the drone to fly to multiple UPS facilities in a single flight.

The drone is a vertical take-off and landing type, meaning no runway is needed. It uses four larger motors to take off and land, with one smaller motor used for horizontal flight. ALIA-250c is fully electric using a custom-built solution.

UPS chief information and engineering officer Juan Perez shared:

This is all about innovation with a focus on returns for our business, our customers, and the environment. These new aircraft will create operational efficiencies in our business, open possibilities for new services, and serve as a foundation for future solutions to reduce the emissions profile of our air and ground operation.

To go along with the drone, UPS has also shared that it will be getting a few of its charging pads to integrate the drone seamlessly. Beta’s Rapid Charging System is equipped with CCS and CHAdeMO connectors, allowing for its drones and third-party electric vehicles to be charged simultaneously. It can charge batteries at a continuous current of 350 Amps, with the ability to boost to 500 Amps. It can be activated with a credit card, phone app, or RFID tag.

UPS plans to use this to charge its ground-based electric vehicles, which it already has over 12,000 around the country. The charging pad can also be equipped with a battery storage system, generator, elevated landing deck, pilot lounge, accommodation, and a workshop.

Currently, Beta’s drones are still in development and are undergoing testing. The first 10 are expected to be delivered in 2024, with the option for UPS to purchase another 140 if it is happy with them. Adding to this news, UPS also recently announced it has committed to purchasing up to 10,000 Arrival electric delivery vans.

BETA founder and CEO Kyle Clark ended with:

We’re combining simple, elegant design and advanced technology to create a reliable aircraft with zero operational emissions that will revolutionize how cargo moves. By utilizing vertical takeoffs and landings, we can turn relatively small spaces at existing UPS facilities into a micro air feeder network without the noise or operating emissions of traditional aircraft.

Photo: UPS Flight Forward

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Avatar for Josh Spires Josh Spires

Josh started in the drone community in 2012 with a drone news Twitter account. Over the years Josh has gained mass exposure from his aerial photography work and spends his days writing drone content for DroneDJ as well as pursuing his business.