UPS said it created a new subsidiary called UPS Flight Forward to construct its drone deliveries service.
UPS said it has applied to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for Part 135 certification to operate commercial drone flights in the UPS® network under a subsidiary business called UPS Flight Forward, Inc.
The new subsidiary is a recently incorporated business that could receive Part 135 certification as early as this year, putting UPS on track to have one of the first fully-certified, revenue-generating drone operations in the United States. When approved, this certification lays the foundation for drone flights beyond an operator’s visual line of sight, and for flights occurring day or night. Such flights are highly restricted in the United States and approved only by exception.
“UPS is committed to using technology to transform the way we do business,” said Scott Price, UPS chief transformation and strategy officer. “UPS’s formation of a drone delivery company and application to begin regular operations under this level of certification is historic for UPS and for the drone and logistics industries.”
Bala Ganesh, vice president of the UPS advanced technology group, said in an interview, "We've done the testing, we've done the prototyping and now it's time to make it operational."
Back in March, UPS announce the WakeMed program, in which a medical professional will load a secure drone container with a medical sample or specimen – such as a blood sample – at one of WakeMed’s nearby facilities. "The drone will fly along a predetermined flight path, monitored by a specially trained Remote Pilot-in-Command (RPIC), to a fixed landing pad at WakeMed’s main hospital and central pathology lab. This will be an ongoing program at WakeMed, and UPS and Matternet will use the learnings to consider how drones can be applied to improve transport services at other hospitals and medical facilities across the U.S.," UPS said in a press release.
Ganesh, according to a news report, said UPS Flight Forward will start its work within hospital campuses, focusing on delivering lab samples from neighboring buildings to a campus' central lab center. Lab samples can take three to four hours to arrive by ground couriers, but the drones cut that time down to minutes, UPS said.