Yesterday, UPS launched a commercial drone-delivery service that will deliver medical supplies in North Carolina.
By working closely with regulators, UPS became the first fully operational, revenue-generating drone delivery service, beating competitors including Amazon, FedEx, and Uber that have tested delivery drones.
Organs in the air
Yesterday, in collaboration with a California-based drone technology company called Matternet, UPS made its first successful delivery at the WakeMed medical facility in North Carolina.
Drone deliveries serve a critical need at large medical centers. Sensitive medical deliveries (such as lifesaving organs or blood) often take 30 minutes due to traffic, but drones cut delivery time down to 3 minutes.
UPS will make at least 10 drone deliveries per day across WakeMed’s campus, and it could increase its flight frequency down the road.
Does this mean UPS is beating Amazon in the drone wars?
Yes — at least for now (thanks, in large part, to the Department of Transportation).
Domino’s, Amazon, and many of the world’s biggest companies have been drooling over the prospect of delivery drones for several years now, but regulators have been strict about greenlighting drone projects.
Last year, the regulators granted permission to some companies (Google, Uber, FedEx, Intel) while barring other companies (most notably Amazon) from joining.
To get its flagship program off the ground, UPS worked closely with the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration and the North Carolina Department of Transportation.