Pharmacies Exploring Delivery Drones

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CVS delivery drones

Pharmacy drone delivery could be coming soon.

CVS (CVS) is teaming up with UPS (UPS) to research drone delivery options. The FAA issued UPS a permit to begin testing the drones earlier in the month. The partnership could eventually result in a full-scale drone roll-out but, for now, the FAA is only clearing the companies to run tests. CVS stated that it believes its customers, especially those in rural areas, will appreciate a drone delivery option.

Walgreen’s Drone Delivery

The announcement follows a similar move by chief CVS rival, Walgreen’s (WBA), who announced a partnership with Alphabet Inc.‘s (GOOGL) drone delivery service, Wing, last month. Walgreen’s customers in Christianburg, VA can opt to participate in the pilot program online and receive their orders via Wing drone deliveries.

CVS Walgreens delivery drone
Consumer drones can revolutionize last-mile delivery logistics. Above: A Wing delivery drone. Wing is a subsidiary of Google parent company, Alphabet Inc,

What to Expect from CVS Delivery Drones

These first-phase drones fly on pre-determined routes and can carry packages weighing up to 5 pounds. Homeowners can receive delivery in either their front or backyard. Live humans monitor all flights, and they have the option to take control if something goes wrong. Representatives from UPS anticipates the drones can reach their destinations and deliver goods in as few as 5 minutes.

The Potential Impact of Drone Delivery

UPS’s Ben Ganesh, who heads the company’s Advanced Technology Group, underscored the possible impact of drone technology. “This is a quantum leap in terms of what’s possible,” Ganesh said in an interview with CNN Business, “Speed can make the difference between life and death.

So far, UPS is focussing its efforts on creating a drone delivery network for healthcare. The delivery giant has already delivered over 1,100 medical samples at a hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina, as part of a government-backed pilot program. It’s planning on expanding the operation to include a hospital in Utah in the near future. UPS initiated contact with CVS and laid out the framework for the partnership.

stratosphere-drones-airbus-eadsy
Some drones can fly as high as the stratosphere and can have profound impact on government military operations. Above: An Airbus stratospheric drone.

International Progress on UAVs

Companies still have a lot of regulatory red tape to cut through before full-scale drone delivery can be introduced. Meanwhile, other countries are adopting the technology more rapidly.

A Silicon Valley startup, Zipline, is delivering medical supplies in the African countries of Rwanda and Ghana. So far, the firm completed over 20,000 deliveries of medical supplies in the two countries.

Drone delivery can be a game-changer in less developed countries, where poor infrastructure makes speedy, consistent delivery a significant challenge. These types of countries are desperate for these types of services, so it’s possible that unmanned aerial delivery could become commonplace in these emerging markets more rapidly than the U.S.; where regulatory scrutiny is expected to be much greater.

Investing in Drone Stocks

In 10 years, drones could be a mainstay in U.S. supply chains. Once the government figures out how to address all the regulatory challenges, there could be drones flying in the skies near you very soon after.

This industry is ripe for rapid growth, and getting a piece of the leading drone companies now could pay off big down the road. If you’re interested in drone stocks, you have a lot of options to choose from. Most companies that are pioneering drone research are large industrial conglomerates and military/aerospace firms. However, as you can see, civilian drones are progressing rapidly.

If you’re wondering when drone delivery will be available in your neighborhood, be sure to keep an eye on the sky.

Chris Dios is an American writer and entrepreneur based in the Greater NYC area.

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