U.S. News


UPS Delivers Government Drone Parts To College Student

A college student was surprised to receive a box containing parts of a $350,000 drone meant for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Posted at 3:33 PM, May 07, 2014

A New York college student ordered some weightlifting equipment online and instead received parts of a government drone. Strangely enough, the box with the drone parts even had his name and address on it. 

The student used image-sharing site Imgur to post some photos of what he assumed were drone parts in several different cases. Included with the parts was a small slip of paper saying "USA Federal Property Return to: NOAA Aircraft Operations Center." 

Examiner says UPS was responsible for the mistake. 

Apparently, there were eight boxes containing drone parts that were supposed to be delivered to the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary in Massachusetts. Seven of those boxes managed to arrive at the correct location, but the other one somehow got dropped off in New York. 

What's perhaps even more unsettling — New York Daily News says the drone parts that were incorrectly delivered actually go to a Puma unmanned aerial system, which cost $350,000. 

Aircraft systems producer AeroVironment says the drone, which is known as a Puma AE, is about 5 feet long and is launched by hand. For accurate surveillance, it often flies somewhere between 50 and 1,000 feet above the ground.

A writer for RT says the drone's versatility is what makes it attractive to the military and NOAA. The drone can apparently land either on the ground or in the water. 

Although the drone was originally created by the U.S. Department of Defense for use in Iraq and Afghanistan, a NOAA spokesman told Boston Daily the organization is looking into "the potential use of unmanned systems for environmental observation purposes, such as marine life and seabird studies, oceanographic and atmospheric research and environmental damage assessments." 

Since the student posted about the drone online, NOAA has been able to get in touch with him about retrieving the parts.