Drones for medicine
Logistics giant UPS has kicked off a drone medical samples delivery service in the US. The programme, which is taking place at the WakeMed hospital in Raleigh, is supported by drone maker Matternet.
To date, most of the medical samples and specimens have been transported across WakeMed’s health system by courier cars, and the deployment of drones enables the hospital to avoid traffic delays, boost delivery efficiency and lower costs.
The initiative leans on Matternet’s lithium-ion battery-powered M2 quadcopter, which can carry medical payloads up to about 5lbs in weight over distances of up to 12.5 miles. The drone flies from one of WakeMed’s facilities along a predetermined flight path, monitored by a remote pilot to a fixed landing pad at the main hospital and central pathology lab.
UPS has previously partnered with start-up Zipline to deliver blood products to remote areas of Rwanda. Zipline’s drone has a cruising speed of 100km/h and a round-trip range of 160kms with a load of up to 1.75kg.
Matternet team has already completed healthcare flights in Switzerland together with Swiss Post, with laboratory samples able to reach their destinations twice as quickly by air than by road. The company also teamed up with Mercedes-Benz and Swiss e-commerce outfit siroop to test drone delivery services in Zurich.
Matternet last year raised $16m in a funding round led by Boeing Horizon X Ventures, supported by Swiss Post, Sony Innovation Fund and Levitate Capital.