UPS Drones to Deliver Medical Products Within the UC San Diego Health System
UPS Flight Forward, the company’s drone airline subsidiary, will use unmanned drones to deliver medical products between health centers and labs at the University of California (UC) San Diego Health system. The flights, which will begin in February 2020, will take only minutes to complete and will be monitored by remote operators.
Medical professionals at UC San Diego’s Jacobs Medical Center in La Jolla will load medical products, such as blood samples and documents, into a secure drone container that attaches to one of Matternet’s M2 rechargeable, battery-powered drones.
The drones will follow predetermined flight paths measuring less than one mile and within visual line of sight under the Federal Aviation Administration’s rules. They will initially travel between Jacobs Medical Center and special landing sites at Moores Cancer Center, and then subsequently at the Center for Advanced Laboratory Medicine, which is near the Jacobs Medical Center.
The FAA designated San Diego County as a special drone-testing region as part of its Integrated Pilot Program. UC San Diego was approved in May 2018 by the FAA to test the use of drones in transporting lab specimens and pharmaceuticals throughout its health system.
In September 2019, UPS Flight Forward received the FAA’s first full Part 135 Standard certification to operate a drone delivery program at WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina. UPS aims to continue to support healthcare organizations by deploying technologies that improve patient care with streamlined logistics and supply chain.
UPS and Henry Schein, a provider of healthcare solutions to office-based dental and medical practitioners, also agreed to test drone deliveries in 2020 for healthcare products to Henry Schein’s customers. They will test final-mile delivery to locations where traditional road transport may be less effective, including health campuses, remote communities, or temporarily inaccessible areas due to natural disasters.