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Verizon’s Skyward and UPS announce connected drone delivery at CES 2021

January 12, 2021  - By

Skyward, a Verizon company, and UPS Flight Forward will collaborate to deliver retail products with drones connected to Verizon 4G LTE, as well as testing and integrating 5G for delivery.

The companies made the announcement during the 2021 Consumer Electronics Show, taking place virtually.

The companies aim to deliver retail products via connected drones at The Villages in Florida.

The Villages is also the site of a driverless shuttle service test.

“We will need the ability to manage and support multiple drones, flying simultaneously, dispatched from a centralized location, operating in a secure and safe environment,” said Carol B. Tomé, CEO of UPS. “To do this at scale, alongside Verizon and Skyward, we’ll need the power of 5G.”

“We’re just beginning to see how the power of 5G Ultra Wideband will transform the way businesses operate,” said Rima Qureshi, chief strategy officer at Verizon. “By partnering with UPS and other innovative companies, we can learn from each other’s expertise and collaborate to create solutions that help move the world forward.”

Photo: Verizon

Photo: Verizon

In 2020, Verizon, UPS Flight Forward and Skyward started testing 4G LTE in delivery drones to demonstrate cellular reliability and performance at altitude.

“The low latency of 5G and edge compute is ideal for monitoring air traffic in and out of a busy logistics hub, especially those using mixed fleets of autonomous vehicles like drones, trucks and planes,” said Mariah Scott, Skyward President. “This year, we’ll be taking the collaboration with UPS further by testing 5G Ultra Wideband integrations to connect the sky.”

UPS has operated more than 3,800 successful drone delivery flights since the creation of UPS Flight Forward, its drone delivery company, certified by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2019. But in 2020, drone delivery emerged as much more than rapid delivery of essential healthcare items — during the global pandemic it provided high-risk seniors a rapid and contactless delivery option to remain healthy at home.

“Using Verizon’s 5G and Skyward, we’ll be able to transform the delivery experience — more personal, more on-demand and with the same safety, efficiency and reliability our customers trust today,” said Bala Ganesh, vice president, Advanced Technology Group at UPS.

About the Author: Tracy Cozzens

Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.