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UPS adds pickup spots at retailers, seeks to fly more drones

United Parcel Service Inc. is responding to the growth in online shopping and pressures for speedy delivery by seeking to expand its drone deliveries and adding thousands of new spots where customers can pick up packages.

The Atlanta-based package delivery giant said Tuesday it is adding 12,000 new package pickup locations inside CVS, The Michaels Co. and Advance Auto Parts stores. The new locations will bring to 21,000 the number of pickup points UPS has in the U.S. and to 40,000 globally.

The company also announced that starting Jan. 1 it will offer pickup and delivery services seven days a week, adding service on Sundays.

It said it is setting up a subsidiary that will focus on expanding its drone-delivery operations, limited now to delivering medical samples at a group of hospitals in Raleigh, North Carolina. It filed for certification from the Federal Aviation Administration for the subsidiary, called UPS Flight Forward, to fly drones beyond line of sight, at night, and with an unlimited number of drones and operators in command.

Still, Google is ahead of UPS on the drone front. In April, Google announced that its affiliate Wing Aviation received federal approval allowing it to make commercial deliveries by drone. It marked the first time a company has gotten a federal air carrier certification for drone deliveries. The approval from the FAA means that Wing can operate commercial drone flights in part of Virginia, which it plans to begin later this year.