UPS is joining forces with Matternet, an autonomous drone delivery startup, to test deliveries of medical supplies using drones. The companies have announced their partnership today which will see supplies being delivered immediately using Matternet’s M2 quadcopters to WakeMed hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The Federal Aviation Administration will oversee this program in addition to the North Carolina Department of Transportation. The test will start out small as the drones can currently carry payloads of up to five pounds for distances of up to 12.5 miles. Matternet’s M2 quadcopter has a rechargeable lithium-ion battery
The way this program will work is that a medical professional will load a secure drone container with a medical sample or specimen, this can include blood samples as well, at one of WakeMed’s nearby facilities. The drone will then fly a predetermined flight path while it’s monitored by a trained Remote Pilot-in-Command to a fixed landing pad at WakeMed’s main hospital and central pathology lab.
“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,” the company said.
It’s going to be an ongoing program at WakeMed with UPS and Matternet using the learnings to consider how drones can be used to improve transport services at other hospitals and medical facilities across the country.