Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) recently partnered with UPS’s drone delivery subsidiary UPS Flight Forward (UPSFF) and drone technology companies DroneUp and Workhorse Group in tests designed to determine how unmanned aerial systems can assist medical professionals in their fight to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The tests in Virginia evaluated the commercial drone industry’s ability to provide and scale small unmanned aerial systems to support various use cases to speed and assist the U.S. healthcare system during the novel coronavirus crisis.
“Drones can be an important way to deliver medical supplies while people stay home to adhere to our social distancing guidelines,” said Virginia Governor Ralph Northam in a press statement.
“We’ve proven through ongoing commercial drone delivery programs that effective drone delivery of medical products is faster than conventional ground-based transportation,” said Scott Price, UPS chief strategy and transformation officer in the statement. “Drones offer a low-touch option for delivery of lab specimens and medical products that could make a significant impact in an urgent response application.”
Data collected during this fast-paced simulation will be used to determine how private-sector drone operators can effectively supplement emergency response and certain patient care. The findings and recommendations will be included in a report to the White House, where leaders are considering what role the nascent industry could play in the coronavirus response.
The test participants conducted exercises over three days earlier this month on the vacant campus of St. Paul's College, in Lawrenceville, Virginia.