WorkHorse Snares Drone Delivery Patent

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As the battle for delivery-drone systems heats up, a few David’s are challenging corporate Goliath’s like Amazon.

Workhorse Group this week announced a patent filing to develop a truck-launched drone package delivery system.

Dubbed a “custom-built, high efficiency delivery UAV that is fully integrated with the Workhorse line of electric/hybrid delivery trucks,” the Horsefly will be FAA compliant, and being integrate with delivery trucks, will maintain line-of-sight flights with a driver or assistant.

“We feel that the patented HorseFly truck launched drone package delivery system is the first major change to the last mile delivery process since the invention of the package delivery truck. Drivers appreciate the fact that the HorseFly system is fast, reliable, and efficient,” said Steve Burns, Workhorse CEO. “Last mile package delivery is changing, and the HorseFly delivery system is leading the way.”

According the patent abstract, the system:

  • Accepts a package for delivery from the docking station on the delivery vehicle and uploads the delivery destination;
  • Autonomously launches from its docked position on the delivery vehicle;
  • Autonomously flies to the delivery destination by means of GPS navigation;
  • Guided in final delivery by means of a human supervised live video feed from the drone;
  • Assisted in the descent and delivery of the parcel by precision sensors and if necessary by means of remote human control.

Autonomously returns to the delivery vehicle by means of GPS navigation and precision sensors and autonomously docks with the delivery vehicle for recharging and preparation for the next delivery sequence.

In 2015, the U.S. Postal Service shortlisted Workhorse’s bid to develop a delivery system using the HorseFly, an octocopter drone designed and built by the University of Cincinnati College of Engineering and Applied Science.

“We feel that package delivery by drone is here,” Burns added. “Soon your package may come to your home by HorseFly.”

Drone delivery continues to grow:

  • Drone Delivery Canada recently completed a successful set of test flights of delivery drones at Griffiss International Airport in New York. Across the border, the company has already received a Special Flight Operations Certificate from Canada’s version of the FAA as well as two previous national certificates.
  • Airbus successfully demonstrated its Skyways drone delivery project in Singapore and has entered into an agreement with SingPost to trial small parcel delivery via drones to “designated stations” on the University campus.”
  • UK-based product design and development firm Cambridge Consultants has developed DelivAir, “a drone delivery concept that can deliver a package straight to the hands of its recipient, no matter their location,” says the company.


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