UPS Brings Technology and Logistics Expertise to Study of Drone Use in Humanitarian Response

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    Technologies under evaluation to help solve complex logistics challenges

    UPS (NYSE: UPS) today announced its participation in a multi-state study on the use of drones for humanitarian disaster relief operations.

    The study was coordinated by Measure, a 32 Advisors Company specializing in drone applications, on behalf of the American Red Cross and participating companies, including UPS. The study was initiated to help inform decision-making on key issues related to drone use and policy.

    The study's findings, which demonstrated the ways new technologies and resources can be implemented to help communities recover, were shared with local, state and federal emergency managers, along with officials in Congress and the Executive Branch during an event today in Washington, D.C.

    As part of the market study, UPS's analysis and logistics expertise was used in the creation of the project scope and evaluation criteria. UPS assessed different scenarios where drones could be utilized for delivery to difficult-to-reach locations, as well as potential deployment considerations of such usage, regulatory implications and safety protocols.

    "UPS routinely develops and evaluates new technologies, including but not limited to drones, that aid deliveries to difficult to access locations," said Mitch Nichols, UPS senior vice president of transportation and engineering. "We believe autonomous and semi-autonomous technology can solve a critical need for humanitarian logistics and effective crisis response."

    Conducted between October 2014 and April 21, 2015, the market study consisted of interviews with officials in three U.S. states that had experienced recent relief operations, including Washington state (March 2014 mudslides), New York (Hurricane Sandy) and New Jersey (Hurricane Sandy).

    Along with the interviews with state officials, UPS examined data obtained under different test scenarios during a drone demonstration in Disaster City, Texas, facilitated by Texas A&M University on March 26, 2015.

    The demonstration evaluated drone platforms for key operating characteristics, ranges and payloads, while simulating various relief and flight scenarios.

    By working with manufacturers, government agencies and non-profit organizations to field-test new fuels and technologies, UPS continuously identifies and integrates advanced technologies and operational efficiencies into its large, global transportation fleet.

    "We have been working with the American Red Cross and other relief organizations to improve the supply chain for humanitarian aid," said Nichols. "This is a long-standing area of focus for our company, and complements the work of The UPS Foundation. UPS personnel on numerous occasions have applied their expertise in logistics and supply chain management to solve global challenges."

    In March, The UPS Foundation announced the launch of the UPS Relief Link program in partnership with UNHCR, the U.N.'s refugee agency, to improve the lives of displaced refugees around the world through optimized distribution and tracking of critical supplies in crisis-affected areas. UPS Relief Link combines the use of a hand-held scanning tool and durable identification cards to deliver superior efficiency by eliminating paper records in the refugee camps.

    The program was developed leveraging UPS's proprietary Trackpad technology, which was first implemented to assist The Salvation Army with relief efforts following the devastating earthquakes in Haiti in 2010. The technology provides full visibility into the supply chain journey of urgently-needed items through the critical 'last mile' of delivery to refugees, where human tracking and data input errors often lead to inconsistent delivery and distribution.

    To read the detailed findings of the market study on drone use in humanitarian response, visit