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Expect to See More UPS Drones Taking to the Skies

UPS has put into play several new technology-based services and partnerships designed to support strategic growth initiatives, from drone delivery to enhanced digital access in e-commerce.

“UPS is moving quickly to introduce a wide range of innovative new services designed to extend our leadership position in developing technology solutions to help e-commerce and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs),” UPS chairman and CEO David Abney said. “We see enormous opportunities and unmet customer needs in several high-growth market segments.”

Building on its industry-first hospital network-focused drone delivery program, UPS Flight forward announced a series of new customers and future drone delivery plans.

“When we launched UPS Flight Forward, we said we would move quickly to scale this business–now the country’s first and only fully certified drone airline–and that’s exactly what we are doing,” UPS chief strategy and transformation officer Scott Price said. “We started with a hospital campus environment and are now expanding scale and use-cases. UPS Flight Forward will work with new customers in other industries to design additional solutions for a wide array of last-mile and urgent delivery challenges.”

The next step is a new drone delivery service in support of the University of Utah Health hospital campuses, in partnership with Matternet. The program will involve drone deliveries of samples and other cargo, similar to the program originally introduced at WakeMed Hospital in North Carolina.

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In addition, UPS Flight Forward announced an agreement with CVS Health to develop a variety of drone delivery use cases for business-to-consumer applications. The program will evaluate the delivery of prescriptions and retail products to the homes of CVS customers.

UPS is also partnering with wholesale pharmaceutical distributor AmerisourceBergen. The collaboration will initially deploy the UPS Flight Forward drone airline to transport certain pharmaceuticals, supplies and records to qualifying medical campuses served by AmerisourceBergen across the U.S.

UPS also revealed its strategy to make its e-commerce services more broadly available through a series of strategic alliances and agreements called the UPS Digital Access Program.

With the UPS Digital Access Program, UPS is establishing preferred relationships with leading digital platforms to offer discounted UPS shipping rates, and other shipping and logistics solutions to their merchant customers. Under this program, UPS is collaborating with to offer discounted shipping rates to its 740,000 e-commerce customers. offers a portfolio of Internet shipping software solutions under the brand names ShipStation, ShippingEasy, ShipWorks, and Endicia. These solutions are meant to help small and medium-sized e-commerce businesses run their shipping operations more smoothly and successfully.

“UPS has extensive experience and sophisticated knowledge of the needs of shippers and platform players operating within the e-commerce ecosystem,” UPS chief marketing officer Kevin Warren said. “As the e-commerce shipper of choice, we are putting that experience to work to help our customers do more, with greater ease, across every aspect of the e-commerce value stream.”

UPS also announced that customers in Germany, France and the Netherlands will soon gain access to UPS Economy. This service offers businesses an economical and efficient shipping option to reach customers in countries outside the European Union. This follows the July launch of UPS Economy in the U.S., Canada, China, Hong Kong and the U.K.