Drones will soon begin delivering prescriptions to Villagers amid the COVID-19 crisis.
That’s because United Parcel Service and CVS are teaming up for the special delivery service, which will begin in May using Matternet’s M2 drone system. UPS says the drone delivery options will provide Villagers with a convenient alternative to visiting a pharmacy during the Coronavirus pandemic, oftentimes to pick up time-sensitive medications. The program also can help protect healthcare workers.
“Our new drone delivery service will help CVS provide safe and efficient deliveries of medicines to this large retirement community, enabling residents to receive medications without leaving their homes,” said Scott Price, UPS chief strategy and transformation officer. “UPS is committed to playing its part in fighting the spread of (the) Coronavirus, and this is another way we can support our healthcare customers and individuals with innovative solutions.”
UPS and CVS last year announced plans to jointly explore the use of drone delivery. The companies successfully completed their first drone deliveries of medical prescriptions from a CVS pharmacy in Cary, N.C. in November 2019.
“Now more than ever, it’s important that our customers have access to their prescriptions,” said Jon Roberts, executive vice president and chief operating officer of CVS Health. “In addition to our in-store pickup, free delivery services and drive-through pickup, this drone delivery service provides an innovative method to reach some of our customers.”
The new service in the mega-retirement community will operate under Federal Aviation Administration rules, with authority to operate through the pandemic and explore ongoing needs as they arise after that period. The operation could expand to include deliveries from two additional CVS pharmacies in the area, UPS says.
The first flights will be less than one-half mile and be delivered to a location near The Villages. Initially, a ground vehicle will complete the delivery to residents’ doors.
Last year, UPS and Matternet initiated an ongoing revenue-generating drone delivery service at WakeMed’s flagship hospital and campus in Raleigh, N.C., completing more than 3,700 flights. The delivery company also established UPS Flight Forward in June 2019, which later earned FAA certification to operate a drone air carrier. The companies then initiated service at the University of California San Diego Health system.
UPS Flight Forward has been exploring prospects for supporting the healthcare industry’s fight to stop the spread of COVID-19. Earlier this month, the company announced its participation in tests in Virginia with the United States government and other partners to determine how unmanned aerial systems can assist medical professionals in their fight to stop the spread of COVID-19.