UPS subsidiary UPS Flight Forward successfully completed its first revenue-generating drone delivery of a medical prescription from a CVS pharmacy directly to a customer’s home in Cary, North Carolina on Nov. 1, 2019.
The flight was followed up by a second delivery of a medical prescription to a nearby retirement community. Both deliveries were made using the autonomous M2 drone system developed Matternet.
“This drone delivery, the first of its kind in the industry, demonstrates what’s possible for our customers who can’t easily make it into our stores,” said Kevin Hourican, president of CVS Pharmacy. “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 flights launched from a CVS store in Cary and flew to CVS customer’s homes. Once at the destination, the drone hovered 20 feet over the properties and lowered the packages by cable to the ground. The drones operate autonomously but are monitored by a remote operator who can intervene if necessary.
The home deliveries mark an important step for UPSFF as it expands its operations. Prior to this, the company had already completed more than 1,500 drone deliveries to a single location at WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina since March 2019.
UPSFF was the first company approved by the Federal Aviation Administration to operate a “drone airline” under a Part 135 Standard certification. The broad certification 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.
UPSFF is building out its ground infrastructure to enable expansion to several industries in the future, according to the company.
“We now have an opportunity to offer different drone delivery solutions, tailored to meet customer needs for speed and convenience,” said Scott Price, UPS chief strategy and transformation officer. “Delivering prescriptions by drone directly to homes could greatly improve the patient experience for CVS customers. We’re delighted to build new services that will shatter preconceived notions of how, when and where goods can be delivered.”