United Parcel Service Flight Forward drones glew prescription medications to the front lawn of a private home and a retirement centre, the UPS unit’s first revenue-generating deliveries for drugstore chain CVS Health Corp.
Flight Forward’s maiden delivery flight in Cary, North Carolina, beat rivals in one phase of the race for the nascent market. The second drone flight delivered medication to a public space at a retirement community.
The packages, roughly as big as small shoeboxes, were lowered from drones hovering at about 20 feet.
UPS and CVS said the deliveries were the first of their kind under a programme approved by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Regulators are hammering out rules on how the unmanned vehicles will operate in US airspace and guidelines are expected in 2021.
“We see potential in drone delivery in rural communities where lifesaving medication is needed and consumers at times cannot conveniently access one of our stores,” said Kevin Hourican, president of CVS Pharmacy.
“CVS is exploring delivery options for urban, suburban and rural markets,” Hourican added.
In September, UPS became the first company to win the broadest FAA certification to operate a drone airline. It permits Flight Forward to collect payment for drone deliveries and to fly as many drones supported by as many operators as necessary to meet customer demand.
Flight Forward and drone start-up Matternet inked various deals to deliver biological samples on medical campuses.
Wing, a drone operator owned by Google parent Alphabet is partnering with Walgreens and FedEx Corp for a home delivery pilot in Christiansburg, Virginia.