Drone delivery may not make a lot of sense for food or parcel delivery yet, but for hospitals it could be a lifesaver. A new test program is being inaugurated at UC San Diego’s Jacobs Medical Center, where Matternet drones operated by UPS will fly blood samples and other items to and from other nearby facilities.
The new program will be the third under Matternet’s belt; An earlier partnership with UPS has made some 1,900 flights at WakeMed hospital in North Carolina, and flights with SwissPost in Zurich resume this month after crashes put them on ice over the summer.
Biological samples and other items that need to be moved quickly generally travel by courier service, which is of course fine sometimes, but not during rush hour. No one wants to have a second spinal tap because the first one got stuck in traffic.
The flights these drones will be undertaking will be autonomous, but with remote monitoring and line of sight from Jacobs to the Moores Cancer Center and Center for Advanced Laboratory Medicine, both of which are less than a mile away.
It’s a big month for Matternet, which in addition to these two concurrent flight test programs recently pulled in a strategic round from the healthcare-focused McKesson Ventures.