CVS Health, UPS partner on drone delivery

Sandra Levy
Senior Editor

CVS Health is stepping up its home delivery of prescriptions and retail products to CVS pharmacy customers. CVS Health and UPS Flight Forward, a subidiary of UPS announced they have agreed to develop a variety of drone delivery use cases, including business-to-consumer operating models.

The program will include delivery of prescriptions and retail products to the homes of CVS Pharmacy customers from its retail stores, in addition to other potential use cases from its other business units.  UPSFF is the only company approved to operate a Drone Airline by the FAA under a Part 135 Standard approval granted on Sept. 27, 2019.

UPS Flight Forward, which already delivers medical samples by drone at WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh, N.C., is rapidly building out its ground and air infrastructure to meet the needs of a diverse customer base. UPS Flight Forward plans to deliver packages to consumers at their homes in the near future.

“As the country’s first fully-certified drone airline, UPS Flight Forward is rapidly building a robust customer base and a network of technology partners to galvanize our leadership in drone delivery,” said Scott Price, UPS chief strategy and transformation officer. “We will create new logistics and delivery solutions no one has ever considered. Previous industry thinking had been limited to only ground transportation technology. Now we’re thinking in three dimensions.”

“We’re always looking to improve convenience for customers through faster, lower-cost and more efficient delivery models,” said Kevin Hourican, CVS Pharmacy president. “Given our focus on innovation, we’re excited to be the first retail health care company to explore drone delivery options with UPS.”

UPS Flight Forward announced this month that it has received the U.S. government’s first full Part 135 Standard certification to operate a drone airline. The certification is the highest level the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration grants a drone delivery company. It permits the company to fly as many drones supported by as many operators as necessary to meet customer demand. 

The company has completed more than 1,500 revenue-generating drone deliveries at the WakeMed campus since March 2019.

UPS Flight Forward plans, in the future, to transport other items in many industries, and future tests together with CVS represent the first foray into retail business expansion for the UPS subsidiary.

UPS Flight Forward started by contributing to tests within the FAA’s UAS Integration Pilot Program. That work centered on the business model for drone delivery on healthcare campuses. The company expects its residential delivery tests also will contribute to the regulatory framework in the future.



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