UPS has recruited autonomous delivery drone startup Matternet to deliver medical samples across the WakedMed hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina. The M2 quadcopter can hold up to 5 lbs as long as 12.5 miles. Though this sounds like a small feat, this method actually makes for more efficient transportation with the option of on-demand and same-day delivery.
“UPS Healthcare & Life Sciences is excited to expand on our current lab specimen logistics portfolio to drive step change in today’s delivery models,” said Chris Cassidy, UPS president of global healthcare & life sciences strategy. ”Using drones to bring blood and other diagnostic specimens from medical facilities to central labs will improve transport efficiencies life never before. And with fewer vehicle on the road, we’ll generate less environmental impact.”
Once approved by the Federal Aviation Administration and North Carolina’s department of transportation, the UPS delivery drone can begin making routine daily flights.
To begin their journey, a medical professional will load a secure drone container with a medical sample or specimen at one of WakeMed’s nearby facilities. The drone will then take off under the supervision of a Remote Pilot-in-Command (RPIC) ending its mission on a fixed landing pad at WakeMed’s main hospital and central pathology lab. This ongoing program at WakeMed will serve as the building block for future medical transportation with the use of drones. If all goes well, drones could be popping up in hospitals all over the place.
“Together with UPS, we aim to shift the status quo for on-demand logistics for healthcare systems in the U.S. through drone delivery networks,” said Matternet CEO, Andreas Raptopoulos. “Our technology allows hospital systems to transport medical items at an unprecedented level of speed and predictability, resulting in improved patient care and operational savings. We are excited to work with our partners to breathe new life into healthcare logistics, and help establish a new layer of ultra-fast, predictable transportation.”