After first announcing a drone delivery collaboration last October, UPS and CVS are pushing ahead with their vision for aerial shipments of medical goods. Announced today, the next phase of this partnership will see UPS drones deployed to carry prescription drugs from a Florida pharmacy to the largest retirement community in the US.
UPS is making some significant strides in its efforts to integrate drones into its business model, along with other forward-thinking solutions such as electric bikes and trucks. Last year, the package delivery company won approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for what it calls a “drone airline,” allowing it to fly unlimited amounts of drones, operate the aircraft at night, and let them carry larger loads than the typical rules allow for. This followed an exemption that allowed the company to introduce a routine delivery service carrying medical goods in North Carolina last March.
UPS says it has now completed more than 3,700 flights as part of that project. UPS carries out these operations using Matternet’s M2 drones, and these aircraft will again do the heavy lifting for the company’s latest high-flying initiative.
The drones will be loaded up with prescription medicines at a Florida CVS pharmacy and flown less than half a mile (800 m) to a designated drop-off point near The Villages, a retirement center housing more than 135,000 residents. From there, a ground vehicle will complete the last leg of the journey. The new drone delivery service is set to begin in early May.