Autonomous drones have begun to ferry blood samples between clinics and labs in the skies over North Carolina, according to a recent report from Wired.
The drone service, run by UPS with drone technology from Matternet, made its first flight last Tuesday at Raleigh’s WakeMed Hospital, according to the report.
The drone can carry up to five pounds and completes its flight in approximately three minutes, a significant reduction from the 30 minutes it would take for a driver to make the journey by car, according to Wired.
While the drone is designed to work autonomously, all flights are monitored by a remote pilot-in-command who can intervene if necessary, according to the report.
The blood-sample toting drones will take about 10 flights daily to start, according to Wired, with the chance to increase if service picks up.
The service was born from the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft System Integration Pilot Program which aims to test the safe integration of drone tech into commercial airspace, according to the report. And while the service is new to UPS, Matternet has reportedly executed more than 3,000 similar flights in Switzerland.
WakeMed is hopeful that the service will lower cost and hasten deliveries, and both UPS and Matternet said they hope to expand the service to other areas in the country, according to the Wired report.