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UPS Launches First Revenue Drone Delivery Service in U.S.

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UPS is beginning a groundbreaking new logistics program using unmanned drones to deliver medical samples at a North Carolina hospital. It’s the first FAA-sanctioned use of a drone for routine revenue flights transporting products under a contractual delivery agreement. The pilot program is taking place at WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina, overseen by the FAA and North Carolina Department of Transportation. The program represents a major milestone for unmanned aviation in the U.S. Working with Matternet, a California drone company, drones operate multiple times a day between a medical building on the edge of WakeMed’s campus and the hospital’s main pathology lab. The project is part of the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft System Integration Pilot Program, or IPP. The IPP aims to test practical applications of drones by partnering local governments with private sector companies to learn how drone technology can be integrated safely and usefully into day-to-day activities. The program is managed by the UPS Advanced Technology Group. Bala Ganesh, who leads the group, said drones are an important part of UPS’s transformation efforts. “What you’re seeing is transformation in action. It will play out over the next four or five years, but today is the first step in that journey,” Ganesh said. The M2 drone can carry a five-pound payload over a distance of up to 12.5 miles, at a speed of more than 40 miles per hour. Initial service involves short hops moving blood samples between buildings at WakeMed, but even that short distance can have a significant impact. The service avoids road delays and reduces transit time from hours by courier to potentially just minutes by drone. As the project advances, drones will connect the hospital with satellite medical facilities miles away. UPS will use what it learns at WakeMed to identify drone service opportunities at more U.S. hospitals and potentially other specialized segments. “This opens the door for UPS and Matternet to serve the life science sector in a more robust way as logistics demands shift,” said Chris Cassidy, president of UPS Global Healthcare and Life Science Logistics. “Healthcare logistics is a strategic focus for UPS, and we are developing innovative solutions that position us as the logistics provider of choice.” Dr. Stuart Ginn, director of WakeMed Innovations, said he’s excited about the drone program because it has the potential to reshape how the hospital provides care to patients. He added that UPS’s participation has been critical. “When a company like UPS shows up and shows interest, it legitimizes the entire industry and accelerates the entire industry,” he said. #UPS #drone #healthcare
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Text Comments (12)
Crystal Jones (1 month ago)
Amazing technology doing something for an excellent innovative cause
Anthony Henderson (1 month ago)
Im giving kids BB guns. Save the few delivery jobs still available.
thomas petroff jr (1 month ago)
0:40 Lost me at "gain learnings". He may as well as said "we educated as progress made by brain learn"
Timmy (3 months ago)
What’s a drone? Bring me my pizza bitch!
MustangPilot1 (5 months ago)
Reminds me of the US and Russian competition for the moon in the 60's. UPS just landed on the moon. Hey Amazon, if you're not first you're last :O
Roger Miller (5 months ago)
So sad that a billion dollar company gets to do this first with FAA approval. When a lot of small businesses tried to get this same FAA approval years ago, the FAA would not allow it. All the drone technology that UPS is using came from diy drone hobbiest community. Your welcome UPS lol.
BMB DRON (8 months ago)
James Homer (9 months ago)
I'm a big fan of innovation but drone delivery will only work for a very small portion of the over all marketplace.  Standard package delivery, which is UPS's forte, will not be possible by drone.  The weight limitations is a major bottleneck.  The liability associated with injuring someone during delivery is another factor.  Thirdly, the terrain and environment of the delivery area is another factor.  There is no delivering to forested areas or during times of inclement weather.  The battery would need to be heated because lithium based batteries begin failing in sub 20F degree weather.
Grizzly Country (26 days ago)
You are picturing them using civilian toy drones instead of military grade drones that have none of the issues you mentioned.
Brian Crawford (2 months ago)
I'm sure they're aware of all these issues and many others and are already working on ways to overcome them
tony webster (8 months ago)
Not to mention the numbers of people monitoring the satellites. The amount of money, needed would make it worthless. Not to mention the lawsuits. One operator looks away for a second, and we have a crash. A gust of wind crash. Some kid playing ball, ball hits drone, crash. People looking for a free pizza, the streets will be full of people with shotguns going drone hunting. It'll work, but not for long.
Julio aviación (9 months ago)
drone of UPS!! FANTASTIC