A College Student Accidentally Received Parts of a Drone Owned by the Feds

The NOAA is working on picking up the pieces, but blames UPS for the mistake.

image via reddit

Photo via reddit

Pieces of an unmanned aerial object intended to go to federal officials in Massachusetts accidentally arrived on the doorstep of a college student in New York.

The drone equipment was sent from the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration’s base in Tampa, Florida, and was part of an eight-package delivery that was headed for NOAA’s Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary in Scituate, according to David Miller, public affairs officer for the organization. The pieces belong to a UAS Puma drone that the NOAA uses to conduct environmental research.

During its journey to the Bay State, however, the box somehow got intercepted. “It seems UPS delivered one of the eight boxes to the wrong address, a box containing only the wings and a control device. We are in touch with the person that received the package and are working with UPS to get components to its destination,” Miller said.

According to a post on Reddit, the student who received the drone parts said it was an “odd” delivery because the box sent to him was labeled with his name and his address. A note placed inside the package is what later informed him that the unmanned aircraft’s wings and accompanying devices in fact were meant for the NOAA. “In all fairness, the UPS guy that delivered it said it was part [two] of my package, so I genuinely thought at first that it was part of the weight lifting bench set I ordered,” he said. “Not sure if that will protect me from the government, though.”

The student acknowledged that he was working with NOAA officials to get the package back to them, since, well, it’s useless without the other seven packages full of parts. “After describing what happened, [the NOAA] seemed pretty content about it. They were happy I reached out to them, and now know where their missing shipment went,” the person who received the drone said. “[They] sent an email to me and someone higher up in the NOAA. I’ll have to call back tomorrow in order to contact this higher-up, and organize how to get this thing back where it belongs.”

According to Miller, NOAA has been exploring 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. He said the Puma unmanned aircraft system that NOAA uses is essentially a “flying camera,” designed for aerial observation.

The agency hopes to conduct similar missions with this particular device once they get all of the pieces of the drone back in one place.

Below is a video, provided by officials, that shows how the NOAA uses the drones:

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