UPS has received the go-ahead from the federal government to begin using drones to deliver products by air and will begin using them to ship packages to hospitals, the company said.
UPS said the Federal Aviation Administration gave its approval on Friday, making it the first company in the United States to earn the Part 135 Standard certification. That designation allows the drone to fly out of sight of the drone’s operator, carry cargo over 55 pounds and while at night.
Amazon, Uber, Google and a host of other companies are hoping to get the same approval.
“This is history in the making, and we aren’t done yet,” said David Abney, UPS chief executive officer. “Our technology is opening doors for UPS and solving problems in unique ways for our customers. We will soon announce other steps to build out our infrastructure, expand services for healthcare customers and put drones to new uses in the future.”
UPS’ subsidiary, UPS Flight Forward, launched its first drone at WakeMed’s hospital campus in Raleigh, N.C., after learning of the approval from the FAA, the company said. That flight used a Matternet M2 quadcopter.
The shipping giant said there is a proven need for drone delivery in healthcare, where short transit times can improve efficiency and help serve patients better.