New, innovative drone program to make medical deliveries

DeJuan Hoggard Image
Wednesday, August 29, 2018

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- In a first-of-its-kind program, the Federal Aviation Administration selected Raleigh as one of the cities to participate in a new medical delivery program.

With a partnership between NCDOT and WakeMed, along with help from Matternet, medical package deliveries will soon be able to be made at WakeMed locations.

"We're looking a way we can deliver care," said WakeMed medical director Dr. Stuart Ginn. "Drone technology...has really changed that equation," Ginn said.

Under the program, which is part of the FAA's Unmanned Aircraft System Integration Pilot Program, drones will have the opportunity to create efficiency in how the hospital handles medical deliveries. "This will allow immediate delivery of goods that matter," said Matternet founder and CEO Andreas Raptopoulos.

According to Raptopoulos, deliveries now can take up to two hours by the current method. The new drone program will drastically cut delivery time. "With a system like this, you can have a 9-minute delivery every time. So it can be very transformative," Raptopoulos mentioned.

Overseas, Matternet has already successfully completed more than 1,800 drone flights for healthcare systems in Switzerland.

"Because of health care costs so high, (the new drone program) should make costs go down," said NCDOT chief deputy secretary David Howard. "I wonder if the Wright Brothers knew this is where (aviation) was going."