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UPS just test-delivered life-saving medicine with a drone

In a mock delivery, UPS used a drone to bring an inhaler to a kid on an island.
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UPS has started testing drones for urgent deliveries.

UPS says it started Thursday. On the first day of testing, the company practiced making an urgent medicine delivery from Beverly, Massachusetts, to Children’s Island, which is about 3 miles off the Atlantic coast.

In the mock delivery, the drone successfully brought an asthma inhaler to a child at a camp on the island.

“We think drones offer a great solution to deliver to hard-to-reach locations in urgent situations where other modes of transportation are not readily available," Mark Wallace, one of UPS' senior vice presidents, said in a statement.

UPS says it might also be able to use drones to deliver aid to parts of the world that aren't easy to get to. Starting next month, the company said it will test out bringing medical supplies to Rwanda.

According to the news release, the world’s largest package delivery company has already been testing drones inside warehouses. They've been used to check some of the higher-up storage racks to check stock or see if there's extra space.

About the drone

UPS has been working with the drone-maker CyPhy Works.

The drone used in Thursday's simulation is battery-powered and flies itself.

According to the news release, the drone is "extremely durable" and has night vision.

Helen Grenier – CyPhy Works' chief technology officer – told USA Today the 42-inch drone can carry 5 pounds. And it traveled at 22 mph during Thursday's test.

Other companies are testing out drones too. Amazon is looking into using them for faster delivery services, and Walmart is testing them in warehouses to manage inventory.

There are still some drone safety rules and regulations that need to be worked out with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) before drone deliveries can become a regular thing, though.

Even so, UPS projects the commercial drone industry will generate more than $82 billion for the U.S. economy in the next 10 years.

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