The suburbs as the test market for delivering prescription medicine via drone

As firms test delivery via drone, one suburb in North Caroline will soon experience how using drones to deliver prescription medicine could work:

Photo by Darrel Und on

Zipline, a leading drone operator, will begin delivering prescription medicines to patients’ homes in a suburb of Charlotte, North Carolina, this year, helping usher in the long-anticipated era of routine drone drops.

Why it matters: Battery-operated drones could satisfy our demand for “instant delivery” in less than 15 minutes, while easing traffic congestion, improving safety and helping the environment…

The trial, which awaits the FAA’s nod, will take place in and around Kannapolis, North Carolina, where Zipline has a distribution center serving nearby hospitals…

A big milestone will occur in a few months when Wing begins drone deliveries in Dallas, its first major metropolitan service area, starting with Walgreens.

Even as this article makes clear that this is already happening in other places, the suburban potential is intriguing for several reasons:

  1. If drones can deliver a lot of goods in suburbia, could this help unlock the hold of driving on suburbia or does it enable people to live even further apart?
  2. How do drones fit in a suburban landscape devoted to private property and proximity to nature? Drones could theoretically be quieter and less obvious than other options yet this could be considered intrusive in a new use of local airspace. Could some local governments ban their use?
  3. I wonder this about delivery possibilities now: how close do distribution centers or drone centers need to be to residential neighborhoods to enable same-day or quicker delivery? Residents like the idea of quicker delivery but having warehouses and distribution centers closer to homes has some limits.

It sounds like these drone deliveries are going to happen and they have the potential to impact suburban life in small – and maybe larger? – ways.

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