6 things to know about WakeMed's drone delivery program

Raleigh, N.C.-based WakeMed Health and Hospitals launched the first FAA-approved medical drone delivery program in March. Six things to know about it:

1. The project is a collaboration with United Parcel Service and drone manufacturer Matternet. It is overseen by the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

2. The drones can deliver medical samples weighing up to 5 pounds and travel a distance of 12.5 miles.

3. The drones have been transporting blood and urine between the hospital and the primary testing lab daily. The flights take about 3 minutes.

4. The flights begin with a medical professional loading a secure drone container with a medical sample or specimen. They end by landing on the main hospital's landing pad. The flights are completed automatically, and a remote supervisor from Matternet ensures the flights occur seamlessly.

5. The decision to implement drone delivery was made after WakeMed officials realized their existing process for transporting samples was inefficient. Lab samples accounted for 70 percent of the hospital's courier shipments, according to UPI.com.

6. Hospital officials eventually want to use the drones to move blood to more rural locations.

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