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UPS pilots drone delivery in US ‘milestone’

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UPS has used a drone to deliver medical supplies on a hospital campus in the US city of Raleigh, which it claims is the first regulator-sanctioned use of the technology.

The programme will see battery-powered drones carrying medical samples along a predetermined flight path every day.

The drones, built by partner Matternet, can carry a payload of just over 2kg and can travel up to 12.5 miles.

UPS said this is the first time the US flight regulator, the Federal Aviation Authority, has sanctioned the use of drones for routine flights transporting a product under a contractual delivery agreement.

It plans to evaluate the use of drones for other uses. Benefits include the option for on-demand and same-day delivery, the lack of reliance on roads and lower costs.

“Enhancing the UPS Global Smart Logistics Network to support hospitals and other healthcare organisations remains a key element of the company’s transformation strategy,” said UPS in a statement.

“Healthcare and life science logistics is a priority segment for UPS, and the company is building new relationships and technologies to deliver better patient care with streamlined logistics and supply chain.”

In 2017, UPS conducted a delivery in a rural area by drone. A UPS driver loaded a package into the cage and pressed a button on a touch screen, sending the drone on a preset autonomous route to an address.

Image credit: Fotolia

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