Avionics News December 2020 - 41

drone with a wingspan of 38 inches was used to capture
high-resolution imagery of the catastrophic damage that
Category 4 Hurricane Florence did to North Carolina and
South Carolina in 2018. State Farm used the imagery to
allocate its resources and determine what insured property
was no longer habitable.
United Parcel Service Inc.'s Flight Forward subsidiary
also received a Part 135 certification for package delivery
from the FAA in October 2019. UPS Flight Forward
teamed up with CVS Health Corp. to use a Matternet M2
drone system to deliver prescription medicine from a CVS
pharmacy in Florida to the Villages retirement community.
The M2 quadcopter made by the Swiss company Matternet
can carry a payload of 5 pounds for about 12 miles.
The Villages is the largest retirement community in the
United States with more than 135,000 residents. Medicine
delivery began in early May, two months after the World
Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. This
service provides a way for elderly customers to avoid visiting
a pharmacy in order to maintain social distancing. The
prescriptions are delivered to a site near the Villages and trucked
to the houses of customers. Two more CVS pharmacies will
soon be making drone deliveries to the Villages.
UPS and CVS teamed up in 2019 to explore drone
delivery operations and then began the first deliveries of
prescriptions from a pharmacy in Cary, North Carolina.
And also last year, UPS and Matternet began to provide a
revenue-generating drone delivery service at WakeMed's
flagship hospital and medical campus in Raleigh, North
Carolina. The M2 drones fly blood samples and other
medical items across campus. By April 2020, the team
had completed more than 3,700 flights. Later, the partners
started service at the University of California-San Diego's
health system. UPS Flight Forward is involved with other
tests to explore other ways drone delivery can support the
health care sector during the pandemic.
The FAA noted in an answer to email questions that it is
also allowing the Chula Vista Police Department to operate
drones under a waiver and using public aircraft rules. When
police begin responding to a call in the city, a drone can be
dispatched and flown by a remote pilot located at a base
station. The police department also trained every one of its
officers to be a visual observer who works in a predefined
operational area of the city. So when a call comes in, an
incident commander can be viewing the scene before police
officers arrive on the ground. In one case, a man reported
to have a gun was found by camera observation to be using
a cigarette lighter that looked like a gun. This prevented a
potential tragedy when police, who were informed of this
circumstance, arrived on the scene.
The police department has recently received a tactical

BVLOS waiver for close-proximity low-altitude operations
at 50 feet above the ground and below and no farther than
1,200 feet from the pilot. The drones can go behind walls and
around corners out of sight of the remote pilot and then cease
operations once the police achieve situational awareness.
Amazon also received an FAA Part 135 air carrier
certificate from the FAA on Aug. 29. Amazon Prime Air
is not ready yet to start regular delivery of packages to its
customers' yards, but it will continue to fly and test this
concept to assure that such operations can safely begin.
Amazon said in an email it submitted detailed evidence to
the FAA that its operations are safe and then demonstrated
these operations. " Our submissions included an extensive
set of manuals and comprehensive protocols for operating,
training and maintaining an autonomous drone delivery
service. In fact, the team developed and validated more than
500 safety and efficiency processes during the application
process. The company also completed thousands of drone
flight hours, and its development effort is supported by
a team of safety, aerospace, science, robotics, software,
hardware, testing and manufacturing experts. "
The Amazon MK27 drone has multiple small rotors and
can take off vertically and then tilt over to fly horizontally
like a fixed-wing aircraft as shown in an Amazon YouTube
video (about a minute long) at https://tinyurl.com/y46sqln4.
Amazon began beta testing package delivery in England in
2016 using an autonomous drone that could deliver up to
5 pounds of items from an Amazon fulfillment center to a
house within 30 minutes.
" This certification is an important step forward for
Prime Air and indicates the FAA's confidence in Amazon's
operating and safety procedures for an autonomous drone
delivery service that will one day deliver packages to
our customers around the world, " said David Carbon,
vice president of Amazon Prime Air in an email sent
from Amazon. " We will continue to develop and refine
our technology to fully integrate delivery drones into
the airspace, and work closely with the FAA and other
regulators around the world to realize our vision of
30-minute delivery. "
Amazon Prime Air has development activity underway in
the United States, England, Austria, France and Israel and
has tested a variety of air vehicles and delivery schemes.
The latest Amazon Prime model tested has a wing design
that shrouds the rotors for safety, and the autonomous air
vehicle is controlled with 6 degrees of freedom, as opposed
to the standard 4, to provide stability in gusty wind conditions
according to an Amazon blog. Dan Nims, a former USAF
test pilot, said 6 degrees of freedom will give an air vehicle
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Avionics News December 2020

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