UPS Inc. will use drones to fill prescriptions for residents of The Villages in Florida, one of the country’s biggest retirement communities, amid a lockdown to halt the coronavirus.
The time- or temperature-sensitive deliveries from a CVS store about a half-mile away are scheduled to begin May 4. They will mark the first paid residential deliveries by UPS’ drone unit, Flight Forward, which received approval last year to operate under relaxed rules for commercial light-weight unmanned aircraft.
The operation will start with drones dropping the prescriptions at a central location, and a Flight Forward employee will ferry them by golf cart to homes. The goal is for the program to operate under the less stringent rules and make the deliveries directly, with the drone lowering its package by winch, said Bala Ganesh, chief of UPS’ advanced technology group.
“This is the first step in an evolution to a model,” Ganesh said April 27. “In the long run, it would be multiple CVS stores around the community flying directly to the home and dropping whatever the prescriptions may be.”