UPS Project Using Unmanned Drone Delivers Medical Samples Among North Carolina Hospitals

In a first of its kind, United States parcel delivering firm UPS has initiated the use of unmanned drones. The company said on Wednesday that it used remote controlled unmanned drones for the supply of medical samples for a North Carolina hospital system. The company said that this measure was a part of its long term strategy of including remote controlled drones as means of delivering of supplies and samples to more medical firms and facilities.

In this particular venture, one of the largest logistics and delivery companies in the world, has joined hands with a drone-logistics startup called Matternet. The current project will see the two partners shuttling back and forth medical samples to and fro form a scattered lot of facilities at WakeMed. Three full-service hospitals and other facilities in North Carolina’s Triangle area are included in the 941-bed hospital system currently.

“Currently, the majority of medical samples and specimens are transported across WakeMed’s expanding health system by courier cars,” UPS said in a statement. “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 that the deliveries using the drones that were undertaken on Tuesday are part of a pilot program which was launched earlier last August by the Federal Aviation Administration to examine whether drones could be put to any practical use. The original project by the FAA is also aimed at analyzing the safest way to use drones for speeding up of deliveries while also reducing costs of delivery. To assist in eth drone flights, help is also being taken from North Carolina’s Department of Transportation by the UPS and Matternet partnership.

“Today’s flight marks the beginning of numerous planned daily revenue flights at the WakeMed Raleigh campus,” UPS said.

The drones would be loaded up with a host of medical specimens such as a blood sample by the medical employees at WakeMed as a part of the program and the drone deliveries. The loaded drones would then be sent up in the air to WakeMed’s central pathology labs as the drone fly along predetermined flight paths. The entire travelling of the drones would be monitored all the while by pilots remotely placed and with remote controls. The data that would; be collected from these flights would enable the companies involved to draw up similar and better strategies to use drone for logistics projects for other such remote and widely distributed medical facilities.

On an earlier occasion, UPS had undertaken a similar project in Rwanda in partnership with Zipline for the delivery of blood products to remote locations in the African country. On the other hand, Matternet has constructed a network to fly autonomous drones in Switzerland where the company has already used drones for shuttling and delivering blood tests and other samples between medical facilities there.

(Adapted from


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