California city could be first in US to use drones to deliver blood

Palo Alto, Calif. could become the first city in the U.S. to deliver blood supplies via drones, according to WTOL.

The company behind the emerging technology is Matternet, a startup based in Menlo Park, Calif. that focuses on building autonomous drones for blood and plasma delivery.

The Stanford Blood Center, which is located in Palo Alto, is interested in this technology to cut down on transportation time for blood supplies to Palo Alto-based Stanford Hospital. 

"We'll use a drone to deliver blood from Stanford Blood Center about 3.5 miles to Stanford Hospital down the road," said Tho Pham, the medical director for the Stanford Blood Center.

Currently, it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour to transport blood from the blood center to the hospital. However, a drone could cut this time to 10 minutes.

The Federal Aviation Administration recently announced it would select a small number of pilot projects to help integrate drones into various industries. City officials submitted their application to approve Matternet's drones for blood supply delivery. The FAA is expected to make a decision within 90 days.  

"We saw it as a really opportune moment for us to be in potentially on the front end of developing policies that could affect cities in the future," said James Keene, Palo Alto's city manager.

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