Innovation Driven

Drone Deliveries Take Flight

Imagine a logistics network that isn’t constrained by typical delivery routes or timetables. Where service providers don’t have to wait to fill a truck, plane, or ship with enough volume to cover their costs, but rather can ship on demand. Where traffic delays no longer stand in the way of making critical deliveries on time.

With UPS Flight Forward, one of the first Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-certified drone airlines, all of this is becoming reality.

UPS’s Autonomous Aviation History

UPS has been testing drones and other automation and robotics technologies for years, particularly in the healthcare space. Since 2016, we’ve partnered with organizations that use drones to deliver life-saving medical supplies in hard-to-reach locations in Rwanda and Ghana.

In 2017, we took a major leap in residential package delivery by testing a drone launched from the roof of a UPS delivery truck. And in 2019, we teamed up with drone manufacturer Matternet to launch a healthcare delivery service on the WakeMed Health & Hospitals campus in Raleigh, North Carolina. It was the first commercial daily drone service cleared by the FAA to transport lab specimens or medical equipment. Through the WakeMed program, a medical professional loads a secure drone container with a medical sample or specimen at one of WakeMed’s nearby facilities. The drone then flies along a predetermined flight path, creating transport efficiencies. In just eight months, UPS Flight Forward service completed more than 2,000 revenue-generating drone deliveries on the WakeMed campus. UPS and Matternet will use the learnings to consider how drones can be applied to improve transport services at other hospitals and medical facilities across the U.S.

Later in 2019, our drones achieved another milestone. UPS, in partnership with CVS Pharmacy, completed the first revenue-generating drone delivery of a medical prescription to a consumer’s home. We then made another delivery of a medical prescription to a second customer in a nearby retirement community. The flights offered a vision of drone delivery solutions that could soon become commonplace, providing a valuable service in communities where life-saving medications are needed and consumers at times cannot conveniently access a pharmacy.

Drone

What’s Next for Flight Forward

UPS Flight Forward, led by an all-female flight crew, included in the picture above, is the first airline to earn the FAA’s full Part 135 Standard certification, the highest level of certification that has no limits on the size or scope of operations. This means that we can fly drones beyond the operator’s line of sight, which will help us scale drone delivery. Pending government approval, UPS will operate regular and frequent drone flights by expanding delivery to additional hospitals and campus environments and adding new services, including commercial and residential drone deliveries.

As we prepare for this exciting future, we are keeping safety at the heart of everything we do, including plans to develop air- and ground-based detect-and-avoid technology.

Drone deliveries are the next logical enhancement to UPS’s Global Smart Logistics Network, enabling supply chains that are more dynamic, predictive, and customized than ever before. As our expanded drone delivery network prepares for takeoff, UPS Flight Forward service is giving new meaning to the saying “the sky’s the limit.”

Dionis Picture

What’s Next for Flight Forward

UPS Flight Forward, led by an all-female flight crew, included in the picture above, is the first airline to earn the FAA’s full Part 135 Standard certification, the highest level of certification that has no limits on the size or scope of operations. This means that we can fly drones beyond the operator’s line of sight, which will help us scale drone delivery. Pending government approval, UPS will operate regular and frequent drone flights by expanding delivery to additional hospitals and campus environments and adding new services, including commercial and residential drone deliveries.

As we prepare for this exciting future, we are keeping safety at the heart of everything we do, including plans to develop air- and ground-based detect-and-avoid technology.

Drone deliveries are the next logical enhancement to UPS’s Global Smart Logistics Network, enabling supply chains that are more dynamic, predictive, and customized than ever before. As our expanded drone delivery network prepares for takeoff, UPS Flight Forward service is giving new meaning to the saying “the sky’s the limit.”

UPS’s
History of
Drone Delivery

UPS’s
History of
Drone Delivery

Planning to build a centralized Operations Control Center. Partnering with drone manufacturers, such as Wingcopter and Matternet, to build new drones with greater carrying capacity and advanced technology. LOOKING AHEAD The UPS Foundation and Gavi help fund the construction of four Zipline distribution centers in Ghana. Since 2016, Zipline has made over 35,000 critical and lifesaving deliveries in Ghana and Rwanda thanks, in part, to the philanthropic support of The UPS Foundation. UPS launches its own delivery service on WakeMed Health & Hospitals campus. UPS Flight Forward™ receives one of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s first full Part 135 Standard certifications to operate a drone airline, led by an all-female flight crew. Completes the first revenue-generating drone delivery of a medical prescription to a consumer’s home. 2019 The UPS Foundation partially underwrites construction of Zipline’s second drone delivery facility in Rwanda, which helps to further expand medical access the country’s 11 million citizens. 2018 UPS tests delivery of a package by a drone launched from the roof of a delivery truck The UPS Foundation and The American Red Cross use a CyPhy tethered drone to assess damage in areas affected by Hurricane Harvey. 2017 With philanthropic support from The UPS Foundation and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Zipline launches the world’s first national-scale drone delivery service to bring life-saving blood to hospitals in Rwanda. UPS collaborates with CyPhy Works test drones for package deliveryto remote or difficult-to-access locations. 2016

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