NEW YORK - Since the beginning of the pandemic, drone delivery services have served an important role in combating the spread of the virus and providing much-needed services and supplies to people in rural communities. United Parcel Service Inc. (NYSE:UPS), which became the first-ever drone airline to receive Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval, teamed up with CVS to deliver prescription medications to residents in a Florida retirement community. Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (NASDAQ:WBA) began delivering over-the-counter medications in Virginia through a partnership with Alphabet's Project Wing drone airline and FedEx Corporation (NYSE:FDX). At the same time, Drone Delivery Canada (TSX-V:FLT) (OTCQX:TAKOF) has been working on a number of projects with First Nations, health care, and federal and provincial governments to provide essential items. Even Amazon Inc's (NASDAQ:AMZN) drone delivery unit is responding to the crisis by designing and building face shields to sell to frontline workers, although the online retail giant has yet to launch its drone delivery services.
From personal protective equipment (PPE) and facemasks to test kits and medications, drone delivery services are proving to be a saving grace for individuals living off the beaten road. Since its inception, Drone Delivery Canada (TSXV:FLT) (OTCQX:TAKOF) has focused on providing essential services to rural communities in northern Canada and is the first federally-compliant drone cargo operator in North America.
The company has signed agreements with First Nations communities and transportation companies like Air Canada, Edmonton International Airport, and DSV Air & Sea Inc. Canada to expand its reach across Canada and beyond. On June 4, Drone Delivery Canada (FLT.V) (TAKOF.QX) ramped up its COVID-19 efforts through a commercial agreement with GlobalMedic to use its patented drone delivery solution to provide service to the Beausoleil First Nation Community in Ontario.
BFN will be using Drone Delivery Canada's Sparrow drones to transport coronavirus-related cargo such as personal protection equipment (PPE), hygiene kits, test kits, test swabs in order to limit person-to-person contact on its island ferry service.
Pandemic Shines Light on Drone Delivery Services
While drone delivery services have become commonplace in industries like e-commerce, construction, and film production, the global pandemic has shone the spotlight on drone delivery's essential role in the healthcare industry. However, the unmanned aerial vehicles' role in the medical world isn't anything new. Drone Delivery Canada (FLT.V) (TAKOF.QX) signed its first remote community drone delivery agreement in October 2017 with Moose Cree Nation to provide the community with essential supplies.
The company has since expanded its capabilities by developing additional delivery drones that can carry more cargo and have the ability to fly longer distances. Drone Delivery Canada has also continued to sign partnerships over the last two years, including an exclusive agreement with Air Canada which allows the company to build and operate up to 150,000 drone delivery routes in Canada.
Drone Delivery Canada (FLT.V) (TAKOF.QX) DSV Project also recently became operational and has been flying hundreds of flights per month, all within expectations.
United Parcel Service Inc. (NYSE:UPS) broke into the drone delivery business in 2019 by delivering medical supplies and made 1,100 medical sample deliveries at a North Carolina hospital under a government pilot program before gaining FAA approval to operate limited drone delivery services across the US.
In April, UPS ramped up its medical supply delivery efforts to offer support during the pandemic by striking a deal with CVS Pharmacy to deliver prescription medications to a Florida retirement community using drones. The company continues to work with the FAA to determine the areas it is allowed to fly in.
Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (NASDAQ:WBA) is also helping supply rural communities by offering drone deliveries for over-the-counter medications and other supplies in Christiansburg, Virginia, through a partnership with FedEx Corporation (NYSE:FDX) and Alphabet's Project Wing drone airline.
Speaking of FedEx Corporation, the postal delivery company has also been aiding in the fight against COVID-19 is by helping the US government quickly move COVID-19 test specimens from over 50 remote drive-thru testing centers at major retailers in 12 states.
E-commerce giant Amazon Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) is also gearing up to offer drone delivery services. The company revealed the new design for its UAV in June 2019 and said it had been handed FAA approval, but its Prime Air Drone has yet to launch commercial deliveries.
With social distancing and international travel restrictions remaining in place for the foreseeable future, it's encouraging to see drone delivery services like Drone Delivery Canada (FLT.V) (TAKOF.QX), FedEx Corporation, and United Parcel Service Inc. stepping up to the plate to help rural communities and at-risk individuals.
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