United Parcel Service's test of a drone system last week marked the latest drive toward more automated — and efficient — deliveries to consumers. With e-commerce sales pegged to grow about 10 percent a year over the next two years, the move toward autonomous deliveries also includes efforts by UPS rival Federal Express, Amazon Inc. and Google (under Alphabet's Project Wing program) as well as 7-11.But further testing is needed, and federal regulations must be implemented before shoppers can expect to receive automated deliveries of the latest looks from Zara dropped off at their doorstep. But the efforts are significant as automation can save carriers billions of dollars each year on a global level.In January, Amazon successfully tested a drone system as part of its Prime Air program, while FedEx said earlier this month that it was investing in AI (artificial intelligence) and robotics as it pursues autonomous trucks for deliveries. While most of the systems are well suited for sparsely populated rural areas, drone makers — and Amazon — are working out the kinks for suburban deliveries, which includes dodging power lines and navigating tightly clustered houses.The UPS test was with a drone that launches from a truck and “autonomously delivered” a package to a home before returning to the vehicle (while the truck continued en route to other delivery locations). UPS partnered with the Workhorse Group, which is an Ohio-based electric truck and drone developer. The company said a reduction of just one mile per driver a day over a one-year period can save the company up to $50 million.Mark Wallace, UPS senior vice president of global engineering and sustainability, said the program would be ideal for "rural locations where our package cars often have to travel miles to make a single delivery.”A UPS spokesman told WWD the program is still in the testing phase. "We will be testing a variety of delivery scenarios to build our knowledge about UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] use for commercial delivery," UPS said. "Our initial tests focused on deliveries to hard-to-reach areas. In fact, we are now using drones to delivery blood to clinics throughout Rwanda — drones are literally saving lives there. Now we are exploring how we can use drones in our day-to-day operations, and we are testing first in rural areas."The company said dense urban geographies "create challenges that may make drones less attractive (buildings impediments, lack of adequate landing locations, etc.). So, we’re looking more closely at rural areas first. In fact, rural areas are where we think we may have the most operational need for drones. These are places where UPS drivers have the longest routes and the lowest 'stop density,' as opposed to urban areas where we have higher stop density."Noteworthy is drone testing by convenience store chain 7-11, which said it made 77 drone deliveries in 2016 in Reno, Nev. — which is a more densely populated area than where other tests have been conducted. UPS, FedEx and Amazon all noted that implementing commercial UAV regulations is complex, and the UPS spokesman said there's no timeline for regulations to be passed and implemented.Yariv Bash, founder and chief executive officer of Flytrex, a drone delivery logistics company, said despite the "flashy test flights we see in the media, a lot of drone companies still have a lot of operational fine-tuning to do."
"Anyone paying close attention to the market can see that the technology is developing by leaps and bounds, but there’s a big difference between a onetime media stunt, and a fully operational drone logistics system," Bash noted.
“I grew up in New York but I hadn’t really experienced the city in any type of touristy way…This was probably the first museum I really explored and took the time to see,” said @haileybaldwin of the @whitneymuseum. On Tuesday night, Baldwin was joined by Jemima Kirke and more at the annual Whitney Museum Gala and Studio Party, which honored Lorna Simpson, Joanne Leonhardt Cassullo and Beth Rudin DeWoody. See more photos on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
Displayed starting this week at the @fashiontextilemuseum: An exhibition on designer @orlakiely titled “Orla Kiely: A Life in Pattern,” which spans two decades and contains more than 150 pieces. “I want people to come away loving pattern and print. It’s something that makes you feel so good,” said the designer during a preview of the exhibit. Also on show are mood boards, samples, sketches and more. Head to WWD.com to see more photos. #wwdfashion
Exclusive: @dsquared2 signs fragrance licensing agreement with Euroitalia, with the first effort of the new partnership being unveiled in September. The brand will launch two scents – one for men and one for women – in Italy. Read our interview with designer Dean and Dan Caten on WWD.com. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: @zefashioninsider)
@louisvuitton has officially renewed Nicolas Ghesquière’s contract as artistic director of women's collections. "I am very pleased to open the next chapter of the story I started with Louis Vuitton almost 5 years ago," said Ghesquière, who first signed on to design the French luxury brand's women's line in 2013. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
“I learned then and there that I had to figure out a way in life to maintain and preserve my sense of pride when I felt good about what I did or what I represented or created,” said @saintrecords on how being bullied for wearing capri pants inspired her to be the artist she is today. Knowles was at the 70th Parsons Benefit last night where she outbid the room for a Dapper Dan customized @gucci experience. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
“There’s this amazing braintrust of people who know the whole universe so well. So we talked to them and they gave us more input,” said actor Alden Ehrenreich on playing the young Han Solo in “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” The cast was at NYC’s SVA Theatre last night for an advanced screening of the film, which hits theaters this week. #wwdeye #starwars #hansolo (📷: @aurorarosedecrosta)
@asaprocky spent nearly two hours in a Plexiglas box Sunday night at @sothebys putting himself through a series of “tests” to demonstrate the process of completing his new album called “Testing.” Get all the details and see all the pictures on WWD.com. #wwdeye
“I’ve struggled my whole life to find a bathing suit that fits me that doesn’t look like a maternity bra. I’m proud of the line because it’s an accurate representation of me rather than me putting on someone else’s clothes,” says @atlantabean of her swimwear collaboration with @piaarrobio, LPA X ATL. The two decided on a swimwear collab and increased the industry standard size for the pieces. Read more about the line — and our interview with de Cadenet Taylor and Arrobio — on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Dan Doperalski)