UPS, Matternet launch drone healthcare delivery service

A drone can make a trip from a clinic to a lab in 3 minutes and 15 seconds, while a car can take up to 30 minutes.



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UPS has partnered with unmanned drone company Matternet to deliver medical samples throughout a hospital in North Carolina.

The company said the program will take place at WakeMed's flagship hospital campus in Raleigh, N.C. The effort will include "numerous planned daily revenue flights" on the WakeMed campus.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration will oversee the pilot.

Also: How machine learning, drones, and robotics will transform the NHS and healthcare

According to UPS, the bevy of medical samples and specimens are transported across WakeMed via cars. Drones provide same-day delivery and lower costs with more efficiency. A drone can make a trip from a clinic to a lab in 3 minutes and 15 seconds while a car can take up to 30 minutes.

Matternet conducted first-round test flights in August at WakeMed. Matternet's M2 Quadcopter will carry medical payloads weighing up to 5 pounds. These drones can travel up to 12.5 miles.

Under the program, a medical professional will load a secure drone container at one of WakeMed's nearby facilities. The drone will have a predetermined flight path and be monitored by a remote pilot to a landing pad at the WakeMed main hospital and central pathology lab.

The companies will take the lessons from WakeMed and potentially use them at other hospitals for healthcare logistics.