UPS is rolling along with its drone delivery program, working with partner CVS Pharmacy to deliver prescription drugs to customer doorsteps via its newly deployed commercial drones. UPS delivered medications to two paying customers on November 1, using the M2 drone system that the logistics company developed in partnership with Matternet.
UPS got approval from the FAA to fly its fleet of commercial drones in service of customers at the beginning of October, and now it plans to iterate its drone delivery program “in the coming months,” with the aim of ensuring that it can deploy UAVs in a commercial capacity at increasing scale. It also launched ‘UPS Flight Forward,’ a dedicated division focused on autonomous drone delivery.
For these early deliveries, drones were loaded with prescriptions filled by pharmacists at a CVS location in Cary, North Carolina. Once a UPS employee loaded the cargo onto the drones, they flew autonomously from the store location to nearby customer homes, dropping off the packages from a hover height of around 20 feet above these locations. One of the customers has mobility challenges that would make travel to a CVS store for prescription pick-up difficult, UPS points out.
This isn’t the first time UPS has deployed drones in a healthcare industry setting: The company has been working with Mattternet and WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh, doing commercial deliveries of medical samples in a B2B setting.