Drone specialist Matternet has partnered with UPS to create a new logistics service that delivers medical samples to hospitals.
The program is taking place at WakeMed’s flagship hospital and campus in North Carolina overseen by the Federal Aviation Administration and North Carolina Department of Transportation.
The program will utilise Matternet’s M2 quadcopter, which is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, and can carry medical payloads weighing up to about 5 lbs over distances of up to 12.5 miles.
The drone will fly along a predetermined flight path, monitored by a specially-trained Remote Pilot-in-Command, to a fixed landing pad at WakeMed’s main hospital and central pathology lab.
The UPS and Matternet program represents a major milestone for unmanned aviation in the United States.
Currently, the majority of medical samples and specimens are transported across WakeMed’s expanding health system by courier cars.
UPS said: “The addition of drone transport provides an option for on-demand and same-day delivery, the ability to avoid roadway delays, increase medical delivery efficiency, lower costs and improve the patient experience with potentially life-saving benefits.”
This will be an ongoing program at WakeMed, and UPS and Matternet will use the findings to consider how drones can be applied to improve transport services at other hospitals and medical facilities across the US.