CEAS Researchers Develop Delivery Drones with AMP Electric Vehicles

By: Ashley Duvelius

UC researchers are collaborating with the locally-based company, AMP Electric Vehicles, to develop the future of delivery: unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s or drones) that autonomously—and safely—deliver packages right to your doorstep.

UC CEAS students Bryan Brown (left) and Wei Wei (right) flying the HorseFly octocopter on campus. Photo Courtesy of The Enquirer/Leigh Taylor

UC CEAS students Bryan Brown (left) and Wei Wei (right) flying the HorseFly octocopter on campus. Photo Courtesy of The Enquirer/Leigh Taylor

There’s a new kind of “fly” that’s been causing a lot of “buzz” lately: the HorseFly octocopter. The University of Cincinnati has partnered with AMP Electric Vehicles, a locally-based company specializing in next generation electric vehicles, to develop an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV or drone) with the ability to make its own deliveries. The Horsefly will pair with AMP’s WorkHorse, the company’s specially designed all-electric delivery truck, to deliver packages directly to your doorstep.

The HorseFly is powered by eight rotors (rendering it the name, “octocopter”) and sits atop the WorkHorse delivery truck waiting for a package from the driver. Once loaded, the HorseFly then scans the package’s barcode, searches for the address and locks in a delivery path using GPS, then flies away on its own to its calculated destination. Upon completion of the delivery, the HorseFly pilots itself back to the truck for its next run and if necessary, undergoes a quick two-minute wireless recharge from the large battery in the WorkHorse truck.

“If you can figure out how to charge the battery more efficiently, then you've got it. That's the whole solution,” says Kelly Cohen, PhD, professor in the UC College of Engineering and Applied Science of aerospace engineering and engineering mechanics Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics and head of the research team. “This is like the dawn of flight in this area 100 years ago.”

Cohen’s team is led by PhD student Wei Wei and includes his fellow aerospace engineering students Bryan Brown, Nicholas Schwartz, Vince DeChellis and Nathaniel Richards.

The partnership between UC and AMP was secured through UCRI, an independent nonprofit institution working to connect UC experts to industry partners, facilitate commercialization of research and enhance experiential learning for UC students.

Currently, the Federal Aviation Administration limits the use of autonomous flights to distinct purposes. However, Cohen’s team and AMP will be ready to release the HorseFly once autonomous flying for commercial vehicles is allowed.

For more information about the HorseFly drone, please visit: