UPS teams up with CVS to deliver prescriptions by drone
Logistics giant UPS has high hopes for its delivery drones and has today announced a number of new business partners in pursuit of this vision, with massive pharmacy chain CVS among them.
Moving medical supplies in more efficient ways is one of the high-potential applications for delivery drones. From Switzerland, to Rwanda to the US, we are already seeing how drones packed with life-saving goods can more quickly deliver them to those in need, and this too forms a key part of UPS’ ambitions.
Last month, the company earned approval for its Flight Forward program, which it describes as a “drone airline.” This green light from the US’ Federal Aviation Administration afforded UPS some exemptions from the typically strict laws around drone use, enabling it to fly an unlimited amount of the aircraft, carry larger payloads of up to 55 lb (25 kg) and carry out these operations at night.
This followed the introduction of a routine drone delivery service back in March (the first sanctioned by the FAA) to ferry medical goods around a health facility in North Carolina. Now the company is keeping the ball rolling with more health-oriented partnerships.
CVS is the big one, with the two committing to developing drone technology to deliver prescriptions and retail products to customer’s homes. Other agreements include a partnership with pharmaceutical distributor AmerisourceBergen, and health care provider Kaiser Permanente to transport goods around its hospital campuses.
“When we launched UPS Flight Forward, we said we would move quickly to scale this business – now the country’s first and only fully-certified drone airline – and that’s exactly what we are doing,” said UPS Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer Scott Price. “We started with a hospital campus environment and are now expanding scale and use-cases. UPS Flight Forward will work with new customers in other industries to design additional solutions for a wide array of last-mile and urgent delivery challenges.”