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UPS Flight Forward and CVS make their first residential delivery by drone

UPS Flight Forward recently was awarded their Part 135 certification from the Federal Aviation Administration, which allows them to make deliveries by drone throughout the U.S. This week, UPS in partnership with CVS made their first residential delivery by drone by dropping off prescription drugs from a CVS pharmacy directly to a consumer’s home.

First residential delivery by drone

This week, UPS Flight Forward announced its first successful completion of revenue-generating drone delivery of prescription drugs from a CVS Pharmacy directly to a consumer’s house.

The delivery by drone was then followed by a second delivery of prescription drugs to another customer in a nearby retirement community. Both flights occurred on Friday, November 1st, 2019 using the Matternet M2 drone system.

“This drone delivery, the first of its kind in the industry, demonstrates what’s possible for our customers who can’t easily make it into our stores,” said Kevin Hourican, president of CVS Pharmacy. “CVS is exploring many types of delivery options for urban, suburban and rural markets. We see big potential in drone delivery in rural communities where life-saving medications are needed and consumers at times cannot conveniently access one of our stores.”

The two deliveries by drone were made as part of a collaboration between UPS and CVS and are a milestone for the drone industry. Both companies plan to continue expanding their drone delivery program in the coming months.

UPS Flight Forward is using the Matternet M2 drone since March 2019 during testing at the WakeMed Hospital campus in Raleigh, North Carolina.

This drone delivery of prescription drugs in partnership with CVS is the first step in expanding UPS’s drone program beyond the hospital campus.

UPS Flight Forward is the first company that was approved by the Federal Aviation Administration to operate as a drone airline under a part 135 standard certification. UPS received this certification in late September and it allows the company to collect payments for drone deliveries and to fly as many drones, supported by as many operators as necessary to meet customer demand.

“We now have an opportunity to offer different drone delivery solutions, tailored to meet customer needs for speed and convenience,” said Scott Price, UPS chief strategy and transformation officer. “Delivering prescriptions by drone directly to homes could greatly improve the patient experience for CVS customers. We’re delighted to build new services that will shatter preconceived notions of how, when and where goods can be delivered.”

The drone delivery of prescription drugs from a CVS store took place in Cary, North Carolina. The unmanned aircraft flew to CVS customers’ homes. The Matternet M2 flew autonomously but was monitored continuously by a remote operator who could intervene if needed.

During the delivery process, the drone hovered about 20 feet over the property as it slowly lowered to the package by a cable and a winch system to the ground. One of the packages was delivered to a CVS customer with limited mobility making it hard for that person to travel to a local store and pick up the prescription.

UPS Flight Forward and Matternet have successfully completed over 1,500 revenue-generating deliveries by drone at WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina, since launching the service in 2019.

What do you think about delivering prescription drugs by drone? Let us know in the comments below.

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Avatar for Haye Kesteloo Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Main Writer at DroneDJ, where he covers all drone related news and writes product reviews. He also contributes to the other sites in the 9to5Mac group such as; 9to5Mac, 9to5Google, 9to5Toys and Electrek. Haye can be reached at or @hayekesteloo