UPS expands medical drone services following FAA certification

UPS subsidiary UPS Flight Forward added the University of Utah Health campus in Salt Lake City to its hospital campus delivery sites, following launch of the service at WakeMed Raleigh campus, NC in March 2019 – the first FAA-sanctioned use of a drone for routine revenue flights in the US. More than 1,500 flights have been completed on the WakeMed campus since operations began there. In September, UPS’s drone airline subsidiary, UPS Flight Forward, received the first ever Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Part 135 Standard certification which gives UPS and Matternet flexibility to rapidly scale hospital operations.

Drone transportation for healthcare logistics creates opportunities for enhanced patient care and cost savings. Currently, the majority of medical samples, instruments, supplies and documents at University of Utah Health are transported by courier cars. Drones provide capability for on-demand and same-day delivery, the ability to avoid roadway delays, and increase medical delivery efficiency.

Flight operations at University of Utah Health will be geared toward building out a more cost-efficient medical delivery system as the campus undergoes growth. New medical construction includes its new Acute Care Center, Craig H. Neilsen Rehabilitation Hospital, and Sugar House Health Center. The addition of drone logistics will help establish an environmentally responsible, short-range transportation solution in support of the state’s Utah Clean Air partnership.

Standard transport protocols will include medical professionals packing a secure drone payload container with medical items. The drones will then fly autonomously along a predetermined flight path to its delivery point.

University of Utah Health hails itself as the Mountain West’s only academic healthcare system, which provides care for Utahns and residents of five surrounding states. With more than 5,000 healthcare professionals in the network, drones can enable staff to focus more on care services vs. courier services, and better support rural area healthcare needs as drone transportation services expand.

UPS and Matternet expect to rapidly expand health campus drone deliveries to other locations in the near future as part of UPS Flight Forward’s new technology services in support of hospital logistics.

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