UPS Chalks Up Another Drone Delivery First
November 18, 2019
UPS this week announced the first two revenue-generating residential deliveries of prescribed medicines to consumers. Its drone delivered the prescription medications from a CVS pharmacy in Cary, North Carolina, to a consumer's home, and to a customer in a retirement community, both on Nov. 1.An M2 drone developed by UPS partner Matternet made the deliveries.The drone flew autonomously but was monitored by a remote operator who could intervene if needed.In each case, it hovered about 20 feet above the delivery destination and lowered its package to the ground using a winch and cable.The deliveries mark an expansion of UPS' partnership with Matternet, established in March to deliver medical samples using unmanned drones at
WakeMed's flagship hospital and campus in Raleigh, North Carolina.The partnership has logged more than 1,500 drone deliveries at WakeMed so far.UPS subsidiary UPS Flight Forward (UPSFF) plans to build out its ground infrastructure to expand to other industries."UPS is exploring and developing drone delivery in various industries, including some that need drone delivery to homes," said company spokesperson Kyle Peterson.The residential deliveries also represent an expansion of UPS' partnership with CVS. UPS began setting up package pickup and return locations in CVS stores nationwide this summer.The two are collaborating to develop drone delivery options, and UPS plans to expand drone deliveries beyond healthcare facilities.
"UPS is scaling its UPS Flight Forward business for healthcare campus settings and other applications," Peterson told TechNewsWorld.It is working with technology vendors on new drones and drone infrastructure technology "to ensure we are able to meet a variety of customer needs safely and effectively," he said. "As regulations and technology mature together, and as public acceptance of drone delivery grows, we will see new drone delivery applications emerge."UPSFF has obtained the United States Federal Aviation Administration's Standard Part 135 certification, which is a requirement for small drones to carry the property of another for compensation beyond visual line of sight.UPSFF is the first company to receive the full Standard Part 135 certification. Alphabet's Wing Aviation was awarded a Part 135 single pilot air carrier certificate for drones, and the FAA is working on another seven Part 135 air carrier certificate applications in all.
UPS and FedEx are battling to be first in the drone delivery space.Both are taking part in the U.S. Department of Transportation's Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program (IPP), scheduled for completion around the end of 2020.FedEx, which is partnering with Alphabet's Wing Aviation, last month announced that a drone had completed the first scheduled e-commerce delivery to a residential address, in Christiansburg, Virginia.Wing's drones will continue to deliver select FedEx packages --...