UPS to Deliver Medical Samples via Drones, Partners with Matternet
【Summary】At the start of the service, UPS will facilitate seven flights per day. All flights are closely monitored by remote operators, which must land the quadcopters on a small pad at their respective destinations.
UPS has reached another milestone in its mission to offer and commercialize drone-based delivery services. The company announced it will host a cutting-edge pilot program that focuses on transporting medical samples between WakeMed healthcare centers in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), UPS has partnered with quadcopter startup Matternet to streamline various aspects of the project. The startup's role in the pilot program is vital, as it will provide a fleet of battery-powered M2 drones for the commercial service.
Drone Flights and BVLOS Waivers
Capable of carrying payloads up to 4.4 pounds, the compact aircrafts will fly from a WakeMed hospital on New Bern Avenue to a medical office site near Sunnybrook Road. The distance between the two locations is roughly a third of a mile, which takes less than five minutes to complete. Matternet's M2 drones are fully equipped to handle longer flights, with a maximum range of 12.5 miles. At the start of the service, UPS will facilitate seven flights per day.
All flights are closely monitored by remote operators, which must land the quadcopters on a small pad at their respective destinations. The drones will carry different types of lab samples, protected by a heavy-duty enclosure attached to the units.
"This is going to bring tremendous benefit to health care," explained Andreas Raptopoulos, CEO of Matternet, in an interview.
"Health care is one of these domains of commercial activity where being fast really matters. It's a fluid process, and, of course, when you do this for the first time it's not easy to predict a timeline."
UPS and California-based Matternet will use data from the pilot program to determine the feasibility of using drones to transport medical samples. Interestingly, the FAA issued waivers for Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) flights for the medical trial. Such actions suggest the government agency has confidence in the delivery company's capacity to conduct BVLOS maneuvers in a safe manner.
Improving Turnaround Time
In addition to added convenience, doctors view the service as a solution to improving turnaround times associated with processing lab samples. Currently, medical samples transported on roads are prone to traffic, congestion and other unforeseen delays. Using quadcopters also makes travel times between healthcare facilities more predictable. During flight, the units take a predetermined, unobstructed route with very minimal obstacles.
"We're looking at significant improvements in lab turnaround time," said Stuart Ginn, Surgeon at WakeMed.
"It can take several hours for samples to get to the lab using current methods, and drones can transport samples in just minutes over the same distances."
Both UPS and Matternet have the necessary experience to carry out drone deliveries in cities. Previously, the global delivery company held a similar trial involving medical supplies in Rwanda, Africa. Conducted in collaboration with drone startup Zipline, the program was successful in increasing accessibility and reducing transport costs to remote parts of the country.
On the other hand, Matternet has completed more than 3,000 drone deliveries (also involving medical supplies) in Switzerland.
Michael Cheng is a legal editor and technical writer with publications for Blackberry ISHN Magazine Houzz and Payment Week. He specializes in technology business and digesting hard data. Outside of work Michael likes to train for marathons spend time with his daughter and explore new places.
Waymo Receives Permit to Participate in California’s Autonomous Vehicle Pilot
How Do Autonomous Cars Deal with Double-parked Vehicles?
Kitty Hawk and Boeing Form Partnership to Make Flying Cars Safer
Waymo to Bring Driverless Cars to France and Japan via Nissan-Renault Partnership
Porsche Forecasts EVs Going Mainstream
Zomato Tests Drones for Food Deliveries in India
Alibaba Brings Tmall Genie to Audi, Honda and Renault Vehicles
Driverless Sensor Startup Sense Photonics Raises $26 Million in Series A Funding
- Ford to Use Lithium Iron Phosphate Batteries for the First Time as it Aims to Produce 600,000 EVs a Year in 2023, Sets Up Global Supply Chain
- The Tesla Model Y and Model 3 Take the 1st and 2nd Place Spots in the Annual Cars.com ‘American-Made Index’
- The NIO ET7 Will Come Standard With an Advanced Dolby Atmos-Powered Sound System Co-Developed With Audio Pioneer Dirac
- BorgWarner to Supply its Integrated Drive Module to Hyundai for a New EV That Will Enter Production in 2024
- Electric Automaker XPeng and Bosch Join the ‘ELISA Project’ to Promote the Use of Linux in Safety-Critical Automotive Applications
- Volkswagen CEO Believes It Will Overtake Tesla in EV Sales by 2025
- Facing Rising Production Costs, Automakers Ford, GM, Stellantis and Toyota Urge Congress to Lift the Cap on the $7,500 EV Tax Credit
- Ford Motor Co is Cutting 3,000 Jobs as it Transitions to Electric Vehicles, Software and Digital Services
- Rivian, Mercedes-Benz Partner to Produce Electric Commercial Vans
- Ford Issues ‘Stop Sale’ of the Electric Mustang Mach-E Over Possible Loss of Propulsion While Driving