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November 5, 2019 10:45 AM, EST

UPS Debuts Home Delivery of CVS Medicine by Drone

UPS Drone An earlier image of a UPS drone. (UPS Inc.)

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UPS Inc. has expanded its revenue-generating drone flights beyond hospital campuses, delivering prescription medicines to two customers’ homes from a CVS Health Corp. pharmacy in Cary, N.C.

The drone flew autonomously while monitored by a remote pilot and lowered the packages by a winch as it hovered about 20 feet above the homes, UPS said in a statement Nov. 5. Matternet, a UPS partner, provided the aircraft for the Nov. 1 flights.

“We now have an opportunity to offer different drone-delivery solutions, tailored to meet customer needs for speed and convenience,” Scott Price, UPS’s chief strategy and transformation officer, said in the statement.

UPS Chief Executive Officer David Abney is betting that drone deliveries will grow quickly, especially in rural areas, and is investing to keep the courier competitive with Amazon.com Inc., Alphabet Inc. and FedEx Corp. UPS was the first company to gain authority from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly commercial drones under the broadest airline rules, giving the green light to build out the business despite certain restrictions.

Since March, UPS has made 1,500 revenue-generating deliveries at the WakeMed Hospital campus in Raleigh, N.C. The company also has signed on other partners, including AmerisourceBergen Corp. and Kaiser Permanente, to explore aerial-delivery opportunities.

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.

UPS ranks No. 1 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America. 

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