UPS arm completes first commercial drone deliveries of prescription medicines
Nov 6, 2019: UPS subsidiary UPS Flight Forward (UPSFF) completed its first revenue-generating drone deliveries, for CVS Health Corporation subsidiary CVS Pharmacy. Carrying prescription medicines, the flights took off from a CVS store in Cary, NC and flew to CVS customers’ homes on November 1. One of the packages was delivered to a CVS customer […]
Nov 6, 2019: UPS subsidiary UPS Flight Forward (UPSFF) completed its first revenue-generating drone deliveries, for CVS Health Corporation subsidiary CVS Pharmacy.
Carrying prescription medicines, the flights took off from a CVS store in Cary, NC and flew to CVS customers’ homes on November 1.
One of the packages was delivered to a CVS customer whose limited mobility makes it difficult to travel to a store to pick up a prescription.
Following FAA approval to conduct a residential drone delivery, the M2 drone system by UPS partner and drone systems developer Matternet, was used to fulfill the deliveries. The drones flew autonomously but were monitored by a remote operator who could intervene if necessary. The drone hovered about 20 feet over the properties and slowly lowered the packages by a cable and a winch to the ground.
UPSFF was the first company approved by the US Federal Aviation Administration to operate a drone airline under a Part 135 Standard certification. UPS earned its certification – the broadest available from the FAA – in late September. It permits the company to collect payment for drone deliveries and to fly as many drones supported by as many operators as necessary to meet customer demand.
This delivery builds on the recently announced collaboration between UPS and CVS to develop a variety of drone delivery use cases, including business-to-consumer operating models.
The companies plan ongoing drone delivery programme development in the coming months in order to bring to market the speed and convenience advantages of UAVs.
Kevin Hourican, president of CVS Pharmacy said: “CVS is exploring many types of delivery options for urban, suburban and rural markets. We see big potential in drone delivery in rural communities where life-saving medications are needed and consumers at times cannot conveniently access one of our stores.”
The deliveries also reflect an important step for UPSFF as it expands operations beyond those it currently offers on hospital campuses.
UPSFF and Matternet have completed more than 1,500 revenue-generating drone deliveries (nearly 8,000 samples) at WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh, NC since launching service there in March 2019.
UPSFF is building out its ground infrastructure to enable expansion to several industries in the future.