UPS Flight Forward delivery drone

UPS starts drone prescription delivery in Florida to help social-distancing

The service will help with social-distancing measures during the coronavirus pandemic

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UPS Flight Forward, the courier's drone delivery division, is to begin autonomous air-drops of prescriptions to customers in Florida.

Specially, the service will begin in early May and operate at The Village, a retirement community in Florida with 135,000 residents.

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The service follows on from a similar pilot program conducted by UPS Flight Forward in North Carolina in November 2019. Now though, as well as adding convenience, the Florida service will help pharmacy and delivery staff comply with social-distancing measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

As before, the service will use the Matternet M2 drone, helping to deliver prescriptions more quickly than by traditional courier vehicles. Initially, the service will work like this; a local pharmacy will prepare the prescription package and load it into the drone, which then flies around half a mile autonomously towards The Village. It then lands nearby, where a courier is waiting to deliver to the customer.

UPS Flight Forward delivery droneThe drones fly autonomously for around half a mileUPS

This means the courier doesn't enter the CVS pharmacy, and can then leave the delivery with the customer in a way that complies with Covid-19 social-distancing. It also means residents can stay home.

Scott Price, UPS chief strategy and transformation officer, said: "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. UPS is committed to playing its part in fighting the spread of coronavirus, and this is another way we can support our healthcare customers and individuals with innovative solutions."

The service will begin in "early May," UPS says, and it has receive permission by the Federal Aviation Administration to operate during the pandemic, and "explore ingoing needs as they arise after that period," UPS added. The service could expand to include two more CVS pharmacies in the area.

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