UPS on Tuesday (Nov. 5) announced that its drone delivery subsidiary, UPS Flight Forward (UPSFF), has completed the first residential drone deliveries to consumers of CVS prescription medications.
The Friday (Nov. 1) drone deliveries were to a CVS customer’s home and to a different customer in a nearby retirement community. Both flights launched from a CVS store in Cary, N.C. and used the M2 drone system by UPS partner and drone systems developer Matternet.
The self-flying drones were supervised by a remote pilot with the ability to intervene if necessary. To make the deliveries, the drone hovered about 20 feet above the properties and then gradually grounded the packages using a cable.
Kevin Hourican, president of CVS Pharmacy, said the successful drone delivery “demonstrates what’s possible for our customers who can’t easily make it into our stores,” and noted that CVS is looking into a variety of delivery options for urban, suburban and rural markets.
UPSFF was certified in September and was the first firm recognized by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to use drones under a Part 135 Standard certification, which is designated for package deliveries. The certification allows UPS to collect payment for drone deliveries and fly as many drones needed to meet customer demand.
Scott Price, UPS chief strategy and transformation officer, said the company can “offer different drone delivery solutions” customized for the needs of consumers and could “greatly improve the patient experience for CVS customers.”
UPSFF and Matternet have already completed more than 1,500 revenue-generating drone deliveries at WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh, N.C. since launching service there in March 2019.
Numerous companies are testing drone delivery to grow their omnichannel offerings and provide “store to door” on-demand service to their customers.
Walgreens, Uber Eats and Amazon have begun testing a drone delivery service and Google launched a drone delivery unit called Wings.