UPS subsidiary Flight Forward announces it will procure ten vertical take-off and landing, electric airlifters from US manufacturer Beta Technologies.
The agreement also includes an option to procure 150 additional eVTOLs.
The first ten are scheduled to arrive at UPS in 2024. The Beta Technologies electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing aircraft are expected to have a range of 250 miles (400 kilometres) and a cruising speed of up to 170 miles (274 km/h).
Cargo capacity is said to be 1,400 pounds (635 kilograms). The charging stations can recharge an aircraft in one hour, according to UPS.
The eVTOLs will be launched from the UPS distribution centre in Atlanta, Georgia and will be tested and evaluated to determine how eVTOLs can contribute to lowering UPS carbon footprint as well as serve innovatively in logistics distribution.
“We’re combining simple, elegant design and advanced technology to create a reliable aircraft with zero operational emissions that will revolutionize how cargo moves,” said BETA founder and CEO Kyle Clark.
“By utilizing vertical takeoffs and landings, we can turn relatively small spaces at existing UPS facilities into a micro air feeder network without the noise or operating emissions of traditional aircraft.”
The move will help with achieving UPS declared goal of having 40% of their fleet operating without the use of fossil fuels by 2025, as well as reducing total emissions by 25%.
Next to procuring large amounts of electric vehicles from companies such as Arrival or Workhorse, UPS has also tasked several companies with developing an electric transporter platform to suit UPS logistical needs.
Adding aerial vehicles to the electric delivery fleets is an important step to electrifying their fleet.
Currently, UPS uses Cessna aircraft to move time-sensitive packages from larger hubs to smaller cities when trucks won’t get there fast enough, which could be taken over by electric VTOLs.
“We tried to figure out how to make this set of the network really efficient. And this particular technology that’s popping up would be a good fit.”, says Bala Ganesh, vice president for engineering at UPS on the subject.