UPS drone unit makes first revenue deliveries for CVS

Henrietta Brewer
November 7, 2019

Indeed, it's unique circumstances like these that make drone delivery all the more appealing. UPS was the first company to be awarded this certification and predictably, it wasted little time in taking to the skies.

UPS says it has teamed up with CVS to make the country's first home deliveries of prescription medications via drone from a store in Cary. The first two prescription deliveries under the program took place on November 1, according to UPS, which used an M2 delivery drone from Matternet.

A UPS Flight Forward drone takes off during the first residential delivery of prescription medication for CVS in Cary, North Carolina, U.S. November 1, 2019.

The flights were conducted autonomously while being monitored by a remote operator who could intervene if necessary, said UPS Flight Forward, the package carrier's drone subsidiary.


One expected use of drones is to get items to rural areas where traditional deliveries would be costly for companies.

In October, Alphabet's Wing unit, an offshoot of Google, and partners Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. and FedEx began drone deliveries from store to customer homes in Christiansburg, Va.

Roughly the size of a shoebox, the packages were lowered while the drone offered at an altitude of 20 feet, before flying back to the pharmacy to recharge its battery and pick up the next delivery.

"CVS is exploring many types of delivery options for urban, suburban and rural markets", Hourican added.


UPS also shared that one of the parcels was delivered to a customer with limited mobility, suggesting this service is not just about convenience but has the ability to help those in need of assistance.

Scott Price, UPS chief strategy and transformation officer, commented: "We're delighted to build new services that will shatter preconceived notions of how, when and where goods can be delivered".

This isn't the first paid delivery of any kind from UPS.

UPS has focused much of its drone efforts thus far on hospital campuses, building on the success of an ongoing test program in North Carolina.


While private industry, particularly e-commerce companies like Amazon, have been eager to deploy drone technology for last-mile delivery, rules and regulations have kept the pace of commercial adoption and usage to a minimum.

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