CVS and UPS Are Teaming Up For Drone Deliveries to Retirees

Alan Boyle, GeekWire

GeekWire contributing editor Alan Boyle is an award-winning science writer and veteran space reporter. Formerly of NBCNews.com, he is the author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference." Follow him via CosmicLog.com, on Twitter @b0yle, and on Facebook and MeWe.

CVS and UPS Are Teaming Up For Drone Deliveries to Retirees

UPS' drone subsidiary and the CVS pharmacy chain say they'll start delivering prescription medicines to the nation's largest retirement community next month, using Matternet's M2 drone delivery system.

The service, approved by the Federal Aviation Administration under Part 107 rules, will be available for The Villages, a community in central Florida that's home to more than 135,000 residents. UPS Flight Forward and CVS will be authorized to operate through the coronavirus pandemic and explore continuing needs as they arise once the pandemic fades.


Physical distancing and restrictions on retail business, enacted in response to the pandemic, are bringing more attention to the potential for drone deliveries.

The UPS-CVS delivery effort follows up on a foundation that's been built over the past year, starting with UPS' transport system for medical samples in North Carolina, and continuing with UPS Flight Forward's certification as a full-fledged drone airline last September as well as its first prescription delivery for CVS in November.

UPS and CVS make residential drone deliverywww.youtube.com

Bay Area-based Matternet, which is part of the Boeing HorizonX investment portfolio, has been partnering with UPS since last year.

UPS said the ramped-up service for The Villages will address needs that have become more acute due to the coronavirus outbreak.

"Our new drone delivery service will help CVS provide safe and efficient deliveries of medicines to this large retirement community, enabling residents to receive medications without leaving their homes," Scott Price, UPS chief strategy and transformation officer, said in a news release. "UPS is committed to playing its part in fighting the spread of coronavirus, and this is another way we can support our healthcare customers and individuals with innovative solutions."

Jon Roberts, executive vice president and chief operating officer of CVS Health, noted that CVS pharmacies already offer in-store pickup, free delivery services and drive-through pickup. "This drone delivery service provides an innovative method to reach some of our customers," Roberts said.

The first flights to The Villages will travel less than a half-mile, and deliver prescriptions from a single CVS pharmacy to a location near the retirement community. Initially, a ground vehicle will complete the delivery to the resident's door, UPS said. The operation could expand to include deliveries from two additional CVS pharmacies in the area.

Separately, UPS Flight Forward is working with Virginia's Center for Innovative Technology, DroneUp and the Workhorse Group on tests designed to determine how drones can help health care professionals respond quickly to medical needs during the pandemic.

Other drone ventures are also upping their game to respond to the outbreak. Alphabet's drone subsidiary, Wing, has partnered with FedEx, Walgreens and other businesses in the Christiansburg, Va., area to deliver over-the-counter drugs as well as other items ranging from baby food to toilet paper.

"As COVID-19 has spread and families have been encouraged to stay home, we've seen a dramatic increase in the number of customers using the service," Jacob Demmitt, a spokesman for Wing, told GeekWire in an email. (Demmitt is a former GeekWire reporter.)

Over a two-week period, Wing made more than 1,000 deliveries, for Walgreens and other retailers, Demmitt said.

Amazon and Walmart are expected to play a big part in future drone deliveries, although they're not currently involved in any of the public pilot projects approved by the FAA.

Last June, Amazon Worldwide Consumer CEO Jeff Wilke said Amazon's all-electric drones would start delivering packages to consumers within months. Although the Seattle-based retail giant has continued testing its drones in a variety of locations around the globe, it hasn't yet announced a publicly available drone delivery service in the U.S.

This story first appeared in GeekWire.

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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PCH Driven: Director Jason Wise Talks Wine, Documentaries, and His New Indie Streaming Service SOMMTV

Jamie Williams
­Jamie Williams is the host of the “PCH Driven” podcast, a show about Southern California entrepreneurs, innovators and its driven leaders on their road to success. The series celebrates and reveals the wonders of the human spirit and explores the motivations behind what drives us.
Jason Wise holding wine glass
Image courtesy of Jason Wise

Jason Wise may still consider himself a little kid, but the 33-year-old filmmaker is building an IMDB page that rivals colleagues twice his age.

As the director behind SOMM, SOMM2, SOMM3, and the upcoming SOMM4, Wise has made a career producing award-winning documentary films that peer deep into the wine industry in Southern California and around the world.

On this episode of the PCH Driven podcast, he talks about life growing up in Cleveland as a horrible student, filmmaking, Los Angeles and his latest entrepreneurial endeavor: A streaming service called SOMMTV that features–what else?–documentaries about wine.

The conversation covers some serious ground, but the themes of wine and film work to anchor the discussion, and Wise dispenses bits of sage filmmaking advice.

“With a documentary you can just start filming right now,” he says. “That’s how SOMM came about. I got tossed into that world during the frustration of trying to make a different film, and I just started filming it, because no one could stop me because I was paying for it myself. That’s the thing with docs,” or “The good thing about SOMM is that you can explain it in one sentence: ‘The hardest test in the world is about wine, and you’ve never heard about it.’”

…Or at least maybe you hadn’t before he made his first film. Now with three SOMM documentaries under his belt, Wise is nearing completion of “SOMM4: Cup of Salvation,” which examines the history of wine’s relationship with religion. Wise says it’s “a wild film,” that spans multiple countries, the Vatican and even an active warzone. As he puts it, the idea is to show that “wine is about every subject,” rather than “every subject is about wine.”

For Wise, the transition to launching his own streaming service came out of his frustration with existing platforms holding too much power over the value of the content he produces.

“Do we want Netflix to tell us what our projects are worth or do we want the audience to do that?” he asks.

But unlike giants in the space, SOMMTV has adopted a gradual approach of just adding small bits of content as they develop. Without the need to license 500 or 1,000 hours of programming, Wise has been able to basically bootstrap SOMMTV and provide short form content and other more experimental offerings that typically get passed over by the Hulus and Disneys of the world.

So far, he says, the experiment is working, and now Wise is looking to raise some serious capital to keep up with the voracious appetites of his subscribers.

“Send those VCs my way,” Wise jokes.

Subscribe to PCH Driven on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA reporter David Shultz contributed to this report.

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