IN PANDEMIC, USING DRONES TO DROP MEDICAL SUPPLIES FROM SKY
Techlife News|Techlife News #448
With a loud whir and a whoosh, a fixed-wing drone slingshots out of a medical warehouse, zips through hazy skies at 80 mph, pops open a belly hatch, and drops a box of medical supplies. Slowed by a little parachute, the box drifts downward and lands with a plop, less than 8 minutes after launch.

For North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Basil Yap, it is a eureka moment.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the deadly consequences of fractured medical supply chains. Drones, said Yap, may be part of the solution.

Proponents say they eliminate the need for delivery trucks and avoid human contact.

For more than a year, North Carolina — where modern aviation was born, at Kitty Hawk — has been the site of tests of drone deliveries, in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration.

The FAA usually requires that drones operate within sight of their operators, which limits the distance they can fly; for these flights, an exception has been made.

One of the first personal protective equipment drone drops in the U.S. took place this week.

The drone was launched by Novant Health, Inc., which operates 15 hospitals and close to 700 different facilities in the southeastern U.S. The health care system said it hopes to use regular flights to deliver masks, gowns, gloves, and other protective gear.

In the future, the company hopes to use them for testing, drug trials, and vaccine distribution.

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