This week, the carrier announced the project with the drug-store chain to deliver meds across The Villages, a Central Florida community with more than 135,000 residents.
Beginning in early May, the venture will include flights of less than a half mile from the pharmacy but may expand to two more stores in the area. A ground vehicle will complete the delivery to the customer’s door. The delivery service is the second deployed by the two companies. Last year, UPS completed the first-ever American commercial drone delivery of a prescription to a customer’s home. Workers launched an M2 medical delivery drone developed by Matternet from a CVS store in Cary, N.C. and delivered the medicine by lowering the parcel down to the customer using a cable and winch. The successful flight was followed by a second delivery to a homebound customer at a nearby retirement village.
“Our new drone delivery service will help CVS provide safe and efficient deliveries of medicines to this large retirement community, enabling residents to receive medications without leaving their homes,” said Scott Price, UPS chief strategy and transformation officer. “UPS is committed to playing its part in fighting the spread of coronavirus, and this is another way we can support our healthcare customers and individuals with innovative solutions.”
UPS announced the launch of Flight Forward last year after filing for FAA authorization. The FAA granted Part 135 certification in September, paving the way for the medical delivery drones to fly further into the consumer market. UPS later partnered with Matternet to ferry medical samples via drone at WakeMed hospital in Raleigh, N.C.
“Now more than ever, it’s important that our customers have access to their prescriptions,” said Jon Roberts, executive vice president and chief operating officer of CVS Health. “In addition to our in-store pickup, free delivery services and drive through pickup, this drone delivery service provides an innovative method to reach some of our customers.”
In March, the company partnered with drone service providers DroneUp, Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology (CIT), and Workhorse Group to demonstrate how medical delivery drones can take a larger role in helping medical workers respond to COVID-19.
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