Something as simple as going to the grocery store or picking up prescription medication has become a more serious activity for persons who are at a higher risk of contracting covid-19. But grocery deliveries and special shopping hours are sometimes easier to come by than getting prescriptions delivered to your front door or your mailbox. Not all prescriptions can be sent through the mail, either. But UPS and CVS are finding a way around that by expanding their collaborative drone prescription delivery service to Florida, The Verge reports.
Starting May 4, residents of The Villages retirement community, a collection of 55-plus communities in Florida, are eligible to have their prescriptions picked up from participating CVS pharmacies and delivered to their doorstep via a UPS-operated drone. The first test flights will be less than half a mile from one CVS store, and UPS Ground drivers will complete the delivery, at least initially. If that goes well, two more CVS stores will join at a later date.
UPS and CVS originally partnered in October 2019 to explore drone deliveries. “We’re always looking to improve convenience for customers through faster, lower-cost and more efficient delivery models,” said Kevin Hourican, president of CVS Pharmacy. “Given our focus on innovation, we’re excited to be the first retail health care company to explore drone delivery options with UPS.”
UPS is also operating a limited drone delivery service in North Carolina, delivering prescription medication to several retirement communities. Both service locations have been cleared by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). According to UPS, its drone airline is the “first to receive full Part 135 certification from the Federal Aviation Administration,” which is the highest level of certification a drone airline can receive. This certification allows UPS to fly drones over people, at night, with packages that weigh over 55 pounds, and out of an operator’s line of sight.
UPS and CVS are not the only companies teaming-up for health-related deliveries. Google’s drone service, Wing, FedEx, and Walgreens first partnered last year in Christiansburg, Virginia on a pilot program to deliver over-the-counter medicines and other related items to residents. Wing received approval from the FAA to operate as a certified drone airline in April 2019.
These drone delivery methods are still very much in the testing phase, so don’t expect them to scale-up substantially any time soon, but they could prove to be effective enough to warrant further expansions.