UPS will use drones to fly prescription medications to residents of The Villages in Florida, a retirement community of more than 1350,000 people.
The service is scheduled to take off on May 4, and will use drones developed by Matternet, a California-based aerial delivery company.
The first flights will be less than half a mile long, and end when the drones drop off the parcels at a location near The Villages. A UPS ground vehicle will then complete the delivery to the resident’s door.
The program is a partnership between UPS and CVS Health, who last year completed their first drone delivery of a prescription to a customer’s home. But the coronavirus has added a new impetus to their collaboration.
UPS says the service will ensure elderly people under lockdown can still get their medicines, and help pharmacies maintain social distancing rules.
“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, in a statement.
“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 flights will be overseen by the Federal Aviation Administration, which last year gave UPS the first nationwide approval for a drone airline in the US.
The project will also provide a useful testbed for UPS’s drone delivery service, which is facing stiff competition from FedEx, Alphabet, and Amazon.