For the last year, we have documented how UPS has been preparing to launch its drone delivery program to fly medication from pharmacies to residential homes. There were some hurdles UPS had to get over with the FAA, as well as a period of testing.
Bloomberg reports UPS was just cleared for takeoff to fly prescriptions from pharmacies to homes situated in The Villages in Florida, America's largest retirement community.
UPS's Flight Forward drone unit will be based out of a nearby CVS located half a mile away from the retirement community. Deliveries are expected to begin on May 4.
Flight Forward employees will load up drones with medication at the CVS and fly it to the nearby community, where other employees at a central location will unload the drone and distribute the medicines to households via golf carts. This process allows for baby boomers in the community, who, by the way, are the most vulnerable to COVID-19, to stay out of public areas and at home during the pandemic.
Bala Ganesh, chief of UPS's advanced technology group, said when flight rules around the community are relaxed, there's an expectation that medication can be delivered to someone's home.
"This is the first step in an evolution to a model," Ganesh told Bloomberg. "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."
The Villages has approximately 135,000 residents and is located one hour north of Orlando. The community has seen 171 infections and 12 deaths.
Governor Ron DeSantis says Central Florida has made it over the pandemic hump. The state is preparing to reopen its economy as more than 32,000 people have been infected with over 1,080 deaths.
If drone delivery is successful, UPS could roll out the service to other communities in Florida, which would outline how social distancing and technology will transform the economy and society for years to come.