SUNY Upstate Medical University wraps up yearlong medical delivery drone pilot 

The State University of New York Upstate Medical University in Syracuse completed a yearlong project to test the use of drones in making medical deliveries, according to a June 7 Government Technology report. 

SUNY partnered with drone services company DroneUp and the Nuair Alliance, a nonprofit organization that tests unmanned aircraft systems, about a year and a half ago to pilot the concept of making medical deliveries with drones. 

The organizations successfully delivered an unused COVID-19 test kit from one rooftop to another on SUNY's campus in January. The flight was a proof-of-concept demonstration to show that drones can make medical deliveries when speed is essential, such as when tissue samples from a surgery patient must be delivered rapidly to a lab in another building, according to the report. 

The test flight took only two minutes compared to the seven minutes it would have taken for someone to drive the test kit to the lab. To scale the project, SUNY and its partners conducted more medical deliveries in three locations throughout Syracuse in May, sending supplies from the hospital to a lab, from the hospital to a surgery center and from a pharmacy to a second hospital. 

Upstate University Hospital CEO Robert Corona, MD, said the hospital sees drones as part of an effort to automate the shipment and supply of specimens and that it also would like to use robots to transport supplies and specimens within the hospital.


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