In a First, UPS Drones Deliver Prescriptions to CVS Customers

Hovering flights lower packages by cable and winch

UPS drones have completed the first revenue-generating deliveries of CVS Health prescriptions directly to consumers’ homes.

The deliveries by a UPS subsidiary, UPS Flight Forward Inc., took place on November 1 using the M2 drone system of UPS partner and drone systems developer Matternet. The first delivery to a private home was followed by a second delivery to a customer in a nearby retirement community.

Our sibling pubilcation, Managed Care, featured the use of drones in health care in its July-August 2019 innovation issue,

The flights launched from a CVS store in Cary, North Carolina. 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. The flights occurred with the approval of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“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.” 

UPS and CVS are collaborating to develop a variety of drone-delivery programs to take advantage of the speed and convenience of unmanned aerial vehicles. UPS Flight Forward was the first company approved by the FAA to operate a drone airline under a Part 135 Standard certification.

UPS Flight Forward and Matternet have completed more than 1,500 revenue-generating drone deliveries (nearly 8,000 samples) at WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina, since launching service there in March 2019.

Source: UPS, November 5. 2019