UPS, Henry Schein Testing Medical-Supply Drone Deliveries

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UPS is keeping the drone-delivery dream alive after announcing a partnership this week with a Fortune 500, medical-solutions distributor

Henry Schein, Inc. will be testing several drone-delivery use cases with UPS Flight Forward to develop new models to transport medical supplies.

“Healthcare and life science logistics are strategic priorities for UPS, and the testing of this drone program is a testament to the value organizations are seeing in this dynamic technology,” Scott Price, UPS chief strategy and transformation officer, said.

Under FAA oversight, the two companies will test final-mile delivery options for health campuses, remote communities and disaster sites where traditional ground deliveries may be less effective or timely.

“We are pleased to work with our long-time healthcare partners at UPS to advance the exciting capabilities that drones offer to shorten the time and distance between essential medical supplies and patient care,” said Gerry Benjamin, Henry Schein executive vice president and chief administrative officer. “As we scale our current capabilities, we are exploring new solutions to address the unique logistics challenges in healthcare.”

Henry Schein provides healthcare products to office-based dental and medical practitioners.

The new project is the latest move by UPS to position the company as the leader in drone delivery services.

Last year, UPS Flight Forward partnered with drug-store chain CVS to complete the first-ever American commercial drone delivery of a prescription to a customer’s home – a mission both companies say will be the first of many.

UPS announced the launch of UPS Flight Forward in March after filing for FAA authorization. The FAA granted Part 135 certification in September, paving the way for the delivery service to fly further into the consumer market. UPS has since partnered with drone delivery company Matternet to ferry medical samples via drone at WakeMed hospital in Raleigh, N.C.

Recent Drone Delivery Milestones

  • Walgreens has announced a partnership with Alphabet UAV spinoff Wing after they launched a non-prescription drone delivery service to select customers in Christianburg, Va.
  • Chinese drone company XAG has teamed up with Airbus to launch delivery trials. Drones carry food deliveries from a noodle shop to select customers via the Drone Cargo WeChat app. A XAG’s plant-protection drones delivered the meal on a pre-determined, one-mile route to a rooftop landing pad in under 5 minutes.
  • Uber Elevate has unveiled a new food-delivery drone. With a range of 18 miles and an 18-minute flight time, the six-rotor aircraft can carry “enough food to feed two adults.” The company expects the program to roll out in San Diego where Uber Elevate has been testing urban aerial delivery via the UAS Integration Pilot Program (IPP).


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