On Tuesday, UPS announced its plans to devise a new drone delivery service for medical samples in a move to improve hospital efficiency.
According to the company, it’s partnering with an autonomous drone company called Matternet and hospital WakeMed in Raleigh, North Carolina to carry on the final leg of the test which began last August. This new service, replacing delivery cars, will be part of a wider test program under the supervision of North Carolina’s Transportation Department. The Federal Aviation Administration is overseeing the program.
Replacing standard delivery cars with drones will be a unique as UPS can use Matternet’s M2 quadcopter drone that can carry medical samples of up to 5 pounds as far as 12.5 miles.
UPS further revealed that the program will begin with numerous planned daily revenue flights at the WakeMed Raleigh campus. Using a UPS secure drone container, WakeMed employees can now load medical specimens like blood samples and send them to a nearby WakeMed facility much faster than they did with delivery vehicles.
Matternet, who already enjoys an established reputation, has completed more than 3,000 flights for healthcare systems in Switzerland. The WakeMed Program also falls under FAA’s broader program called the “Unmanned Aircraft System Integration Pilot Program,” which aims to test practical applications of drones through government and private sector collaborations.