UPS trials drone delivery service for emergency medical supplies

The world’s largest package delivery firm UPS has launched a drone delivery trial for emergency medical supplies in rural Massachusetts, the USA.

During the first flight, which took place on Thursday, Massachusetts-based drone-maker CyPhy delivered a package for UPS from Beverly, a town some 40 km northeast of Boston, to a summer camp on Children’s Island about five km off the Atlantic coast. CyPhy is co-owned by UPS.

The drone, with a UPS logo on the front, made the journey in about 8 minutes.

"This demonstrates a drone is the best and most efficient way to deliver a package in a medical emergency in a remote location," Helen Greiner, chief technology officer and founder of CyPhy, told Reuters.

UPS is one of several companies trying to persuade the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to revise its guidelines for commercial drone operations and approve the technology for regular delivery operations. Last month, the FAA published rules that restrict the use of drones to within the line of sight of the operator.

UPS hopes to offer drone deliveries of emergency supplies as a regular part of its services in future.

Earlier this year UPS announced it was backing a start-up using drones in Rwanda to transport life-saving blood supplies and vaccines.

Drones are seen as having great potential to deliver packages, once FAA concerns over safety have been addressed.

Online retailer Amazon has been testing drones in the United Kingdom, Canada and Denmark, while Wal-Mart Stores has been using them to manage inventory at warehouses.


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