Introducing Propane Bobtail Drones
A couple of years ago AmeriGas announced our new iPropane hose-free propane delivery system. However, follow up on testing of that technology did not measure up to our high standards and so the project was shut down before rolling out nationwide. Today, we’re proud to announce that we’re undertaking a bold and new initiative in propane distribution: semi-autonomous drones!
Like tech industry-leader Amazon, which is currently testing drones for package deliveries, AmeriGas is exploring the potential to use drones to deliver propane to homes and businesses nationwide. Our vision is to gradually replace our fleet of 1,000s of bobtail trucks with drones. Each one would be outfitted with a steel tank virtually identical to the barrels on bobtails and capable of carrying between 2,400 and 3,000 gallons of propane. A rough mockup of one potential configuration that we are considering is shown below.
AmeriGas bobtail drivers are beginning now to start training to become certified drone pilots. Drivers (or rather drone pilots) will maneuver the bobtail drones to customer locations, hovering over tanks, while the tank is filled. The pilots will still perform their pre-fill safety inspection then push a button to drop the hose from their drone rather than have to pull it from a bobtail truck. We estimate that the time savings by eliminating the work needed to drag and retract hoses will be significant.
Once again, AmeriGas is proud to be part of another first in the propane industry with drone-based delivery. While we are still in the testing stages, please let us know if you are interested in drone-based deliveries and we’ll include your home or business in our upcoming trial.