7 things to know about drone delivery in healthcare

Drone delivery has long been promised to disrupt the transportation industry and improve access to medical supplies, especially in rural areas. But where does it stand?

Here are seven things to know about the state of drones in healthcare:

1. Matternet is a drone company based in Silicon Valley that focuses on autonomous transportation. Matternet has already deployed drones to deliver blood and medications in Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Papua, New Guinea.  Last May, Matternet was one of the few companies selected to carry out drone logistics operations for U.S. hospitals under the FAA's unmanned aircraft system integration pilot program. The company is working with UC San Diego Health and WakeMed Health & Hospitals in Raleigh, N.C., to establish on-demand transportation of lab samples and medical items between hospital facilities. Boeing invested in the drone company.

2. Flirtey, a drone delivery service startup based in Nevada, is testing the safety of delivering medical supplies such as defibrillators, EpiPens and opioid overdose antidotes via drones under the FAA's pilot program. The company was also included on CNBC's "Disruptor 50" list, an annual ranking of the most ambitious companies in the world in 2018. In 2017, Flirtey launched the first drone defibrillator service in the U.S., called Air Heart.

3. EHang signed a contract with Lung Biotechnology to establish the first autonomous drone able to transport a human. The idea is to automate and facilitate the transportation of organs to those in need of an organ transplant.

4. ZipLine, a drone delivery startup in California, created a new drone that can travel up to 79 miles mph. The company focuses on delivering medical supplies via drone.

5. Google filed a patent in 2016 for a drone that could bring medical aid to people in distress. The patent included a device or app that allows you to select the nature of the emergency and it displays the drones' arrival time. While any recent details of Google drones health-related project are kept under wraps, Google's parent company Alphabet is working on a project called "Wing" that aims to upend the way packages are delivered. That drone is being used for disaster relief and delivery of food and clean water.

6. Vayu Drones, operating out of Madagascar, can deliver blood products, critical medications, surgical supplies and vaccines. It has delivered stool and blood samples to the country's central lab for testing, according to Doctorpreneurs.com.

7. Mosquito control. Last May, the U.S. Transportation Department selected 10 winners for its drone pilot program. One  recipients was the Lee County Mosquito Control District, which will work on a project that uses drones to track mosquito larvae in hopes to better control the pests.

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