- UPS and CVS announced on April 27 that they will deliver prescriptions by drone starting early May.
- They will start by delivering medications to a retirement community in Florida, beginning in May.
- This is the latest instalment in the competition between UPS, FedEx, Amazon, and Alphabet to launch regular drone deliveries.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
UPS and CVS announced on Monday drone-delivered prescriptions will start in early May.
At first, the deliveries will go to The Villages, the largest retirement community in the US. The 135,000 residents of the Florida community will be able to have prescription medications delivered to their homes.
The coronavirus has upended life around the world, and many countries and states are on lockdown. Pharmacies are considered essential and remain open, but venturing outside can be risky, especially for the elderly and immunocompromised populations.
Here’s how the first-of-its-kind service will work.
The deliveries will be made by M2 drones from Matternet, a company based in Mountain View, California.
The M2 drones can carry two kilograms (about 4.4 pounds) and four litres (about a gallon) up to 40 kilometers (nearly 25 miles).
The drones are designed specifically for carrying medical samples and supplies, making it a natural fit for this endeavour.
Last year, CVS and UPS first announced their plans to explore drone delivery.
UPS VP of advanced technology group Bala Ganesh told Business Insider that the new delivery service shows how drone deliveries can help connect “high-risk populations” with essential medications.
Source: Business Insider
In October, UPS beat out Google and Amazon to be the first US authorised drone airline, meaning it can operate drones anywhere in the country.
In November 2019, they completed their first CVS deliveries in a test run in North Carolina.
Since the coronavirus pandemic hit the US, CVS has been offering free deliveries in the traditional way.
Beginning in May, contactless drone delivery will be an option for the 135,000 residents of The Villages in Florida.
At first, the drones will only complete flights of less than half a mile, dropping prescriptions off at a location near the retirement community in central Florida.
From there, ground delivery will take the medication the rest of the way to residents’ homes initially.
The plan may also expand to cover two more CVS locations in the area.
UPS has permission under the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) to continue through the pandemic, and then to adapt as needed afterward.
Though the last leg of the deliveries will be completed by ground transportation for now, UPS promotional materials show packages delivered right to people’s homes, something that may be coming in the future.
UPS has already been experimenting with medical deliveries, cutting the transport time for medical samples at WakeMed medical campus in North Carolina from half an hour to about three minutes.
Source: Business Insider
In April, UPS announced that it was conducting more drone trials in Virginia to find ways to use the technology to fight the coronavirus.
More than 3,700 flights were completed under that program.
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