[ti:US Companies Set to Have Drones Transport Food, Medicines]
[00:00.04]People in some parts of the United States could soon
[00:04.68]have medications and other products flown directly to their homes.
[00:12.60]CVS Health Corporation is partnering with international shipping company UPS
[00:20.11]to set up a product delivery service for CVS customers.
[00:26.36]The service will involve drone aircraft.
[00:30.25]The two companies announced plans to develop and test the system last week.
[00:39.24]The service is expected to begin tests in one or two U.S. cities
[00:44.65]in the coming weeks, Reuters news agency reported.
[00:50.72]UPS said the program would involve direct drone deliveries
[00:55.95]of prescription drugs and other products to homes of CVS customers.
[01:03.44]The new partnership marks the latest expansion of the UPS drone company Flight Forward.
[01:11.92]Flight Forward has been operating about 10 drone flights a day
[01:16.91]to deliver medical materials on the grounds of WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina.
[01:25.12]Some of the flights involved emergency blood supplies.
[01:30.60]This month, Flight Forward received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration,
[01:37.16]FAA, to operate as the first U.S. "air carrier" with drone delivery services.
[01:46.28]After the approval, UPS announced plans to expand Flight Forward's
[01:52.05]drone deliveries from healthcare to other industries.
[01:58.04]Other businesses that have sought FAA approval for drove delivery services
[02:03.96]include online seller Amazon and Google's parent company Alphabet.
[02:11.64]Alphabet's drone company Wing received federal approval earlier this year to fly delivery drones.
[02:20.32]Last week, Wing announced it had launched a test program
[02:25.30]that delivers non-prescription medications and other products to people in a Virginia town.
[02:34.16]Wing's project is a partnership with international shipper FedEx
[02:39.46]and Walgreens Boots Alliance, the owner of Walgreens drugstores.
[02:46.68]Walgreens customers in the town can order from a list of more than 100 products
[02:53.07]and get them delivered to their home by drone.
[02:57.76]The first test flights involved drones that flew
[03:01.31]about seven kilometers from a Wing storage center to nearby houses.
[03:08.12]Each aircraft is able to travel as far as 19 kilometers on a single flight.
[03:15.52]The company says it plans to expand travel distances in the future.
[03:22.36]In January, the FAA proposed rules that would permit drones to operate over populated areas.
[03:30.92]But final federal rules for drone use are not expected to be finalized until at least 2021.
[03:41.36]Another company that has been testing drone deliveries is Uber.
[03:46.36]The ride-sharing company has experimented
[03:49.64]with food deliveries for its online food ordering business Uber Eats.
[03:56.44]Uber received permission from the FAA last year
[04:00.43]to test food deliveries by air in San Diego, California.
[04:06.40]The company said the first tests involved food orders from McDonald's restaurants.
[04:14.28]During testing, food orders are sent through the Uber Eats app to one of the restaurants.
[04:21.64]Workers load the food into a box, which is connected to the delivery aircraft.
[04:28.36]The drone is then programmed to fly to a special landing area.
[04:33.80]From there, an Uber worker takes the box and completes the rest of the trip on the ground.
[04:41.88]In the future, the company plans to land drones on top of parked vehicles
[04:47.80]that Uber drivers would then use to deliver the food to customers.
[04:54.16]The company is planning also to use self-driving cars to support its future drone delivery services.
[05:03.72]Luke Fischer is head of Uber Elevate, which is developing the service's flight operations.
[05:11.32]He says the company is still experimenting with possible methods
[05:16.24]that would permit the drone to complete the whole delivery by itself.
[05:22.48]These could involve drone landings on specially-designed mailboxes
[05:28.08]or use of parachutes to drop products close to customers' homes.
[05:33.80]But Fischer said these methods would be difficult in most big city environments.
[05:41.80]It is not known when Uber will receive permission to expand its testing
[05:46.84]and delivery services to other parts of the country.
[05:51.48]But this week, the company released a photo of a newly-designed Uber Eats delivery drone.
[05:59.64]The company says it expects the new aircraft to take flight before the end of the year.
[06:07.04]I'm Bryan Lynn. 更多聽力請訪問51VOA.COM