- Flights were the first commercial drone deliveries of a medical prescription in the United States under an FAA-approved program
- UPS and CVS exploring a variety of drone delivery use cases
- UPS Flight Forward expanding drone delivery beyond hospital campuses
UPS (NYSE:UPS) subsidiary UPS Flight Forward Inc. (UPSFF) and CVS Health Corporation (NYSE:CVS.N) subsidiary CVS Pharmacy, Inc. today announced the successful completion of the first revenue-generating drone delivery of a medical prescription from a CVS pharmacy directly to a consumer’s home. This was followed by another delivery of a medical prescription to a second customer in a nearby retirement community. Both flights occurred on Friday, Nov. 1, 2019, using the M2 drone system by UPS partner and drone systems developer Matternet.
The deliveries mark another milestone in a recently announced collaboration between UPS and CVS to develop a variety of drone delivery use cases, including business-to-consumer operating models. The companies plan ongoing drone delivery program development in the coming months in order to bring to market the speed and convenience advantages of UAVs. The recent prescription delivery flights occurred with FAA approval to conduct a residential drone delivery and according to FAA regulations.
“This drone delivery, the first of its kind in the industry, demonstrates what’s possible for our customers who can’t easily make it into our stores,” said Kevin Hourican, president of CVS Pharmacy. “CVS is exploring many types of delivery options for urban, suburban and rural markets. We see big potential in drone delivery in rural communities where life-saving medications are needed and consumers at times cannot conveniently access one of our stores.”
The deliveries also reflect an important step for UPSFF as it expands operations beyond those it currently offers on hospital campuses. UPSFF was the first company approved by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to operate a drone airline under a Part 135 Standard certification. UPS earned its certification – the broadest available from the FAA – in late September. It permits the company to collect payment for drone deliveries and to fly as many drones supported by as many operators as necessary to meet customer demand.
“We now have an opportunity to offer different drone delivery solutions, tailored to meet customer needs for speed and convenience,” said Scott Price, UPS chief strategy and transformation officer. “Delivering prescriptions by drone directly to homes could greatly improve the patient experience for CVS customers. We’re delighted to build new services that will shatter preconceived notions of how, when and where goods can be delivered.”
The flights launched from a CVS store in Cary, NC and flew to CVS customers’ homes. The drones flew autonomously but were monitored by a remote operator who could intervene if necessary. The drone hovered about 20 feet over the properties and slowly lowered the packages by a cable and a winch to the ground. One of the packages was delivered to a CVS customer whose limited mobility makes it difficult to travel to a store to pick up a prescription.
UPSFF and Matternet have completed more than 1,500 revenue-generating drone deliveries (nearly 8,000 samples) at WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh, NC since launching service there in March 2019. UPSFF is building out its ground infrastructure to enable expansion to several industries in the future.
UPS (NYSE: UPS) is a global leader in logistics, offering a broad range of solutions including transporting packages and freight; facilitating international trade, and deploying advanced technology to more efficiently manage the world of business. Headquartered in Atlanta, UPS serves more than 220 countries and territories worldwide. UPS was awarded America’s Best Customer Service company for Shipping and Delivery services by Newsweek magazine; Forbes Most Valuable Brand in Transportation; and top rankings on the JUST 100 list for social responsibility, the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index, and the Harris Poll Reputation Quotient, among other prestigious rankings and awards. The company can be found on the web at ups.com or pressroom.ups.com and its corporate blog can be found at ups.com/longitudes The company’s sustainability eNewsletter, UPS Horizons, can be found at ups.com/sustainabilitynewsletter. To get UPS news direct, follow @UPS_News on Twitter. To ship with UPS, visit ups.com/ship.
CVS Health is the nation’s premier health innovation company helping people on their path to better health. Whether in one of its pharmacies or through its health services and plans, CVS Health is pioneering a bold new approach to total health by making quality care more affordable, accessible, simple and seamless. CVS Health is community-based and locally focused, engaging consumers with the care they need when and where they need it. The Company has approximately 9,900 retail locations, approximately 1,100 walk-in medical clinics, a leading pharmacy benefits manager with more than 102 million plan members, a dedicated senior pharmacy care business serving more than one million patients per year and expanding specialty pharmacy services. CVS Health also serves an estimated 38 million people through traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including rapidly expanding Medicare Advantage offerings and a leading standalone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. The Company believes its innovative health care model increases access to quality care, delivers better health outcomes and lowers
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