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U.S. Gov’t Agency, UPS Accidentally Send Drone Parts to College Student

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Posted on May 6, 2014

  Here we see an example of the NOAA’s PUMA unmanned aircraft. (YouTube still via Motherboard)

Well, oops, UPS. A logistical glitch, which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is attributing to a delivery snafu by UPS, caused parts of a drone designed to monitor marine life and ocean conditions to end up far from its intended destination.

Instead of winging their way to the Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary in Massachusetts, two key components of the NOAA’s PUMA unmanned aircraft kit landed on the doorstep of a college student who registered the error on the online info-porium known as Reddit, according to Vice’s Jason Koebler (via Motherboard):

David Miller, a spokesperson for NOAA, told me he’s not sure how the wings and control panel to a NOAA Puma drone, which the agency uses to measure ocean debris, conduct seabird surveys, and monitor ocean habitats, ended up in the hands of the Redditor, but believes that UPS somehow erred and delivered it to the college student.

[...] According to the Redditor (we’ve reached out to him to learn his name and hear more about his story), a college student who goes by the username Seventy_Seven, the drone arrived in a plain package delivered by UPS. The box was addressed to him and had apparently been sitting in storage for a while.

Although the federal government would (hopefully) not entrust the handling of other types of drones, or assorted parts pertaining to same, to commercial mailing services, this episode might serve as a useful object lesson.

Meanwhile, Seventy_Seven described his special delivery thusly: “Though an odd box, I genuinely thought it was parts for the bench I ordered, since I wasn’t expecting a freaking drone.”

—Posted by Kasia Anderson

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