Freight UPS teams up with Matternet to transport medical samples via drone

UPS has announced that it has partnered up with Matternet to deliver medical samples via drone

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UPS is launching this new project on the campus of the Raleigh metropolitan area, which is being overseen by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and the North Carolina Department of Transportation. WakeMed´s flagship hospital will be the place from where the medical samples will be flown to various labours throughout the city.

The partner of freight giant UPS is Matternet. The company is a leader in autonomous drone technology in the United States. This joint partnership program represents a significant milestone for unmanned aviation in the United States, argued UPS.

Currently, most medical samples are transported on the road by courier cars. The drone transport, however, provides bettered delivery efficiency, lower costs and an improvement of the patient experience with potentially life-saving benefits.

Chris Cassidy, UPS President of Global Healthcare & Life Sciences Strategy, said: “UPS Healthcare & Life Sciences is excited to expand on our current lab specimen logistics portfolio to drive a step change in today´s delivery models. Using drones to bring blood and other diagnostic specimens from medical facilities to central labs will improve transport efficiencies like never before. And with fewer vehicles on the road, we´ll generate less environmental impact.”

The partnership allows the option of on-demand and same-day deliveries, providing the hospital with the needed samples just in time. As a vehicle for the transport, Matternet will utilise its M2 quadcopter, which is powered by the battery and can carry a payload of up to 5 lbs. The drone can fly over distances of up to 12.5 miles.

UPS explained in a statement, how a routine flight could look like: "Throughout the WakeMed program, a medical professional will load a secure drone container with a medical sample or specimen – such as a blood sample – at one of WakeMed’s nearby facilities. The drone will fly along a predetermined flight path, monitored by a specially trained Remote Pilot-in-Command (RPIC), to a fixed landing pad at WakeMed’s main hospital and central pathology lab. This will be an ongoing program at WakeMed, and UPS and Matternet will use the learnings to consider how drones can be applied to improve transport services at other hospitals and medical facilities across the U.S."

Back in 2016, UPS partnered up with GAVI and Zipline to deliver blood products to remote locations in Rwanda, Africa. Matternet is also experienced in delivering medical samples. The company has completed over 3,000 flights for healthcare systems in Switzerland.

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