Hybrid Trucks Backed with Drones May Be The Future of Packaging

When internet shopping giant Amazon announced that it was to trial drones as a method of delivery it raised eyebrows; an audacious plan, and a great publicity stunt, but surely an impractical idea in the long run? Perhaps, but perhaps not; a US company, Amp Electric Vehicles, has its own idea out into the public realm, a combination of versatile drone, and hybrid vehicle. Designed as a method of delivering packages that is both ecologically sound and extremely practical, this one really could have legs.

Let’s start with the vehicle itself: every courier needs a truck, and the Amp plan uses the Workhorse, which it just happens to own. The whole system is being branded as E-Gen, and it works like this. The truck runs on an electric battery, which has a 60 mile range. It also has a gas engine, which can be used to extend that range, or to charge the battery pack. Now, here’s the clever bit: while drones have a limited range and battery life, the truck is used to shorten the journey it has to make. Put simply, the driver parks at a convenient spot, and the drone completes the short journeys to the destinations, one by one, and returns to its docking station on top of the truck, where it recharges en-route to the next stopping point.

The combination of truck and drone not only extends the range of delivery, but also saves on fuel for the truck which, in conventional terms, would have to travel individually to each address. The drone, being smaller, is more economical to run, hence the cost savings are impressive. (more…)

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Now, about the drone: the one chosen is known as Horsefly and has been developed in conjunction with the University of Cincinnati, and it differs from most other drones in certain