United Parcel Service (UPS) Flight Forward drones have flown prescription medicines to the front lawn of a private residence and a retirement facility, the U.S.unit’s first revenue-producing deliveries for drugstore chain CVS Health.
Flight Ahead’s maiden delivery flight on Friday in Cary, North Carolina, beat competitors in a single section of the race for the burgeoning market. The second drone flight delivered medicines to a public space at a retirement group.
The shipments, roughly the size of small shoeboxes, have been lowered from drones floating at an altitude of about 20 feet.
UPS and CVS said Tuesday the deliveries had been the first of their kind under a program authorized by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Regulators are still preparing guidelines for how the unmanned winged vehicles will function in U.S. airspace, and guidelines are anticipated in 2021.
“We see big potential in drone delivery in rural neighborhoods where life-saving medicines are needed, and consumers at times can’t conveniently access one of our outlets,” said Kevin Hourican, president of CVS Pharmacy.
In September, UPS became the first firm to win the broadest FAA certification to operate a drone airline. That allows Flight Forward to collect payment for drone deliveries and to fly as many drones backed by as many operators as necessary to fulfill customer demand.
Flight Forward and drone startup Matternet have struck a variety of deals to ship biological samples on a handful of pharmaceutical campuses.
Wing, a drone operator, owned by Google parent Alphabet, is collaborating with Walgreens and FedEx for a house delivery pilot in Christiansburg, Virginia.